Four Encyclical Letters
Ten thousand copies of the Sword pamphlet,
"The Future of Africa" — the Holy Father's
Encyclical Fidei Donum — have gone out during
the last few months. Orders continue to come
in, together with requests for the earlier
Missionary Encyclicals, the first two of which are
no longer in print in this country. We take
this opportunity, therefore, of presenting all
four of these Encyclicals in one booklet, indexed
for easy reference and at a price within
Apostolic Letter of Benedict XV,
November 30th, 1919 i
Encyclical Letter of Pius XI,
February 28th, 1926 20
Encyclical Letter of Pius XII,
June 2nd, 1951 43
Encyclical Letter of Pius XII,
April 2ist, 1957 74
ON THE PROPAGATION OF THE FAITH
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
Apostolic letter of Benedict XV, November ^oth, igig
HTHE great and sublime mission which Our Lord Jesus
Christ, just before returning to the Father, entrusted
to His disciples in these words, "Go ye into the whole
world and preach the Gospel to every creature",^ was
certainly not to terminate with the death of the Apostles,
but to endure through the medium of their successors
until the end of time; that is, as long as there should
be men to be saved by the teaching of the truth. And
in fact since that day when they "went forth and
preached everywhere", so that "their sound hath gone
forth into all the earth and their words unto the ends
of the world", the Holy Church of God, remembering
the divine command, has never ceased through the
centuries continually to send out heralds and ministers
of the Divine Word to announce the tidings of eternal
salvation brought to the human race by Jesus Christ.
Wherefore, during the first three centuries of
Christianity, when the fury of the persecutions let loose
from hell seemed as if it would drown the growing
Church in blood, the Gospel was proclaimed and
resounded to the furthest limits of the Roman Empire.
And when peace and Hberty were then given to the
Church, very great was the progress that she made in
the apostolate throughout the whole world, especially
by the aid of men distinguished for zeal and sanctity.
Gregory the Illuminator enlightened Armenia with the
1 Mark xvi, 15.
2 The Popes and the Missions
light of the Gospel; Victorinus, Styria; Fnimentius,
Ethiopia; Patrick made a conquest of the Irish for the
Faith; Augustine, of the English; Columba and
Palladius, of the Scots: then Clement Willebrord, the
first Bishop of Utrecht, evangelised Holland; Boniface
and Ansgar brought to the Church of Jesus Christ the
peoples of Germany, and Cyril and Methodius the Slavs.
Extending still further the scope of the apostolate,
William de Rubruck penetrated with the torch of the
Gospel amongst the Mongolians; Blessed Gregory the
Tenth sent missionaries to China, and the sons of St.
Francis soon afterwards established there a flourishing
Christian Church, which was subsequently destroyed
When the New World was discovered, a crowd of
apostolic men, amongst whom was prominent the noble
figure of Bartholorhew Las Casas, the glory of the
distinguished Dominican Order, devoted themselves to
the defence and the conversion of the poor natives:
while St. Francis Xavier, worthy in truth to be com-
pared to the Apostles, after having worked so
energetically in India and Japan for the glory of
God and the salvation of souls, died on the borders
of China, towards which he had been going, as if opening
up by his death the way for a new evangelisation of
(those immense regions where members of so many
distinguished religious Orders and missionary Congrega-
tions, eager to propagate the faith, were to exercise the
apostolate amidst many vicissitudes.
Finally, Australia, the latest discovered continent,
and the interior of Africa, recently explored with great
boldness and persistence, received messengers of the
Christian faith; and now there is no island in the vast
Pacific Ocean so remote that it has not experienced the
zealous activity of Our missionaries, amongst whom
have been many who, whilst endeavouring to secure the
salvation of their brethren, following the example of
The Popes and the Missions 3
the Apostles, reached the highest degree of sanctity, and
not a few who, as martyrs, sealed their apostolate with
the shedding of their blood.
Considering, then, the numerous and heavy labours
undertaken by Our brethren for the propagation of the
faith, all their efforts, the proofs of their undaunted
courage. We may well wonder at the numberless
heathen who are still sitting in the shadows of death;
for, according to recent statistics, their number amounts
to a thousand million.
Taking, therefore, compassion on the sad fate of this
multitude of souls, and as it has always been Our
nearest duty to extend to them the benefits of divine
redemption, it is also with glad and grateful feelings
that We watch the movement, inspired by the Holy
Ghost, that is taking place throughout the Catholic
world, for promoting and developing the missions. It
is therefore to urge on and further this movement — a
duty in keeping with Our office and Our dearest wishes
— that, after fervently imploring the Lord for light and
assistance. We address this letter to you, Venerable
Brethren, to exhort you, your clergy and your flocks,
and to remind you how you can best serve this important
The Heads of the Missions
This letter is first of all addressed to those who, either
as Bishops or as Vicars or Prefects Apostolic, have
been placed at the head of the missions. As it is their
first and direct care to propagate the faith, it is in them
that the Church places her main hopes for expansion.
We know their apostolic zeal, We know their difficulties
and trials, especially during recent years, in their efforts
not only to remain at their posts but also to extend the
kingdom of God. It is because We know their loyalty
to, and their love for, the Apostolic See, that We express
Our feelings to them as a father does to his sons.
4 The Popes and the Missions
Let them, therefore, further the best interests of their
priests and other assistants by word and deed, encourage
and urge them to better things. Whoever works in the
Lord's vineyard, in whatever capacity, should be made
to feel that the mission is ruled by a father, watchful,
diligent and full of charity, keenly interested in all
and everything, rejoicing in their success, sympathetic
in their trials, encouraging and helpful in their good
efforts and undertakings, and looking upon everything
that concerns them as concerning himself.
The condition and fate of the missions depend on their
government, and the worst that could befall them would
be to be ruled by men cither incapable or unfit for the
task. Whoever leaves his country, his nearest and
dearest, to propagate the Christian name, often exposes
himself to long and dangerous journeys, joyfully ready
to suffer the greatest trials in order to gather in a harvest
of souls to Christ. If such men come under diligent
rulers, from whose prudence and charity they may
benefit in all things, their works will no doubt bear
fruit; if otherwise, it is much to be feared that, growing
gradually tired of work and discomforts, they will finally
give way to discouragement and disgust.
Their Duties to non-Christians
Then again, the first care of one who is at the head
of a mission is to extend the work and bring it to
completion. For, as the whole country which lies
within the limits of his mission is entrusted to his care,
he must seek to work out the salvation of all those
who inhabit that country. Hence, when he has con-
verted a few thousands out of an extensive population,
he should not draw the line there and rest contented.
He must, without question, foster, bring up and protect
those whom Jesus Christ has begotten; nor should he
allow them to drift and perish. But let him not imagine
that he has done his duty unless he strives with all his
The Popes and the Missions 5
strength and without flagging to bring Christian truth
and Hfe within the reach of aii. the others, whose
number is infinitely greater.
In order, then, that the preaching of the Gospel should *
come within everyone's hearing more successfully and
quickly, he will find it useful to found other mission
stations and centres, which will grow into so many seats
of new Vicariates and Prefectures, into which the mission
should be divided as soon as opportunities allow.
The Division of Dioceses
Here We must give due praise to all those Vicars
Apostolic who lay new foundations for the future king-
dom of God in the way We have outlined: and when
for this purpose they have lacked a supply of men
belonging to their own Order, they have never hesitated
to call in and accept the assistance of other religious
On the other hand, how reprehensible would be the
conduct of one who should look upon that portion of
the Lord's field which has been assigned to him, as his
own property, which no one else should dare to touch.
How severe would God's justice not be on him,
especially if — as has happened too often — a small num-
ber of Christians were lost in the midst of a great number
of heathens, and if he should refuse to accept proffered
assistance to instruct them, though he and his clergy
are unable to cope with the work.
The head of a Catholic mission, for whom God's glory
and the salvation of souls are nearest to his heart, calls
in assistants, if need be, from everywhere to help him in
his holy task, not caring whether they belong to another
nation or to a different religious Order so long as Christ
is preached. 2 He makes use not only of men, but of ^
nuns as well, for his schools, orphanages, hospitals.
2 Philippians i, i8.
6 The Popes and the Missions
hostels and other charitable institutions, which he knows
are, with God's help, endowed with an extraordinary
power to extend our faith.
For all this, an efficient head of a mission does not
lock himself up within his own limits, as though any
other interests outside these were foreign to him; but
under the impulse of Christ's charity. Whose glory is
his dearest interest, he tries to keep in touch and foster
friendship with his neighbouring colleagues. As a
matter of fact, there are many interests common to the
whole country, which obviously can only be negotiated
in common. Besides this it would be to the greatest
profit of the missions were the various heads to gather
at stated times for discussion and mutual encouragement.
A Native Qergy
k. Lastly, the main care of those who rule the missions,
should be to raise and train a clergy from amidst the
nations among which they dwell, for on this are founded
the best hopes for the Church of the future. Linked
to his compatriots as he is by the bonds of origin,
character, feelings and inclinations, the indigenous priest
possesses exceptional opportunities for introducing the
faith to their minds, and is endowed with powers of
persuasion far superior to those of any other man. It
thus frequently happens that he has access where a
foreign priest could not set foot.
But to obtain the expected results, it is absolutely
^ necessary to mould and build up an indigenous clergy
in a way that is satisfactory. A raw and unfinished
preparation, such as will allow one to be ordained, will
not do by any means; the training should on the contrary
be full, adequate in extent of studies and length of years,
such as is given to priests of civilised nations. Nor
should the indigenous priest be trained for the sole
The Popes and the Missions 7
purpose of assisting foreign missionaries in a subordinate
ministry, but he must be fitted for his divine task and
rendered able one day to undertake with credit the
administration of his own people. Indeed, as the
Catholic Church of God is foreign to no nation, so
should every nation yield its own sacred ministers and
follow them as teachers of the divine law and spiritual
Wherever, therefore, there exists an indigenous clergy,
adequate in numbers and in training, and worthy of
its vocation, there the missionary's work must be con-
sidered to have been brought to a happy close; there
the Church is founded. And if ever persecution
threatened her existence, her roots and foundations
would have struck too deep to give any chance of success
to hostile attacks.
The Apostolic See has always urged the heads of the
missions to look upon this grave duty with the care
it deserves, and to carry it out diligently; and of this
the colleges recently erected in Rome to train priests
of foreign nations, chiefly of the Eastern rite, afford clear
Yet, notwithstanding the Roman Pontiff's insistence,
it is sad to think that there are still countries where the
Catholic faith has been preached for several centuries,
but where you will find no indigenous clergy, except
of an inferior kind; sad to think that there are nations
who have fully seen the light of the Gospel, have reached
such a degree of civilisation as to possess men dis-
tinguished in every department of secular knowledge;
who for many centuries have come under the salutary
influence of the Gospel and the Church, and have yet
been able to yield neither Bishops to rule them, nor
priests to direct them. Therefore, to all appearances,
the methods used in various places to train a clergy
for the missions have up to now been inadequate and
8 The Popes and the Missions
In order to remove this inadequacy, We order the
Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of Faith to
establish, wherever there is a need, seminaries for the
benefit of each country and several dioceses simultane-
ously, or to see to their foundation or to their proper
management; and We enjoin on the Congregation to be
particularly careful to watch the growth of the new
clergy in Vicariates and other missions.
Forget your own Country
And now We address you. Beloved Sons, tillers of
the Lord's vineyard, in whose hands are directly placed
the salvation of souls and the propagation of Christian
From the outset ever hold before your eyes the
excellence and greatness of the dignity which informs
your work. It is a divine task, and one infinitely
remote from the meanness of human interests, to light
the torch to those sitting in the shadows of death, and
to open the gate of heaven to those who rush to their
destruction. Holding, therefore, that these words of the
Lord are addressed to each one of you: "Forget your
people and your father's house",' remember then that
you are not to propagate the kingdom of men, but
that of Christ; that you are not to enrol citizens into any
^ country of this world, but that of the next.
It would be regrettable indeed, were any of the
missionaries to be so forgetful of their dignity as to
think more of their earthly than of their heavenly
country, and were too much bent upon extending its
earthly glory and power. This would indeed be a plague
most deadly to their apostleship, which would kill in
the preacher of the Gospel every activity for the love
of souls, and would undermine his authority among the
public. However barbarous and savage they be, men
3 Psalm xliv, ii.
The Popes and the Missions 9
easily understand what it is that the missionary expects
from them, and they are very shrewd in detecting
whether any of his expectations is at variance with
their own spiritual advantage. Suppose him then to be
in any way preoccupied with worldly interests, and,
instead of acting in everything like an apostolic man,
to appear to further the interests of his own country,
people will at once suspect his intentions, and may be
led to believe that the Christian religion is the exclusive
property of some foreign nation; that adhesion to this
religion implies submission to a foreign country and
the loss of one's own national dignity.
Some of the mission accounts published recently
make very painful reading for Us, as We find therein
an anxiety not so much to extend the kingdom of God
as to increase the power of the missionary's own country.
We are surprised that it does not occur to the writers
to what extent the mind of the heathen is in danger
of being thus repelled from religion. Not in this way
does the Catholic missionary act who is worthy of the
name; but, bearing perpetually in mind that he is the
ambassador not of his own country but of Christ, he
should so comport himself that everyone can recognise
in him a minister of a religion which embraces all men
who adore God in spirit and truth, is a stranger to no
nation, and "where there is neither Gentile nor Jew,
circumcision nor uncircumcision. Barbarian nor
Scythian, bond nor free. But Christ is all and in all."*
Another danger against which the missionary must
carefully guard is that of seeking other profits than those
of souls. But of this We need not say more. For how
is a man to seek only the glory of God as he should,
and be ready to sacrifice his goods and his life to further
that glory by calling others to wisdom, if he is actuated
by the desire of lucre? Moreover, such a man would
4 Col. iii. II.
10 The Popes and the Missions
lose much of his authority over the Gentiles chiefly,
as is natural, if the desire of acquisition should have
degenerated into the vice of avarice; there is no stain
more contemptible in the eyes of men and more
unworthy of the kingdom of God. The good preacher of
the Gospel will therefore in this matter also follow the
Apostle of the Gentiles, who exhorted Timothy, though
not him alone: "Having food and wherewith to be
covered, with these we are content". ^ And the Apostle
sometimes carried his love of abstention so far as to
support himself with his own work, occupied as he was
with the cares of onerous duties.
It is understood that, before undertaking his apostolic
work, the missionary must undergo a thorough training,
though it is sometimes objected that there is no need
of so much learning for one who has to announce Christ
to uncivilised nations. It is true that spiritual accom-
plishments are better adapted to the work of the salva-
tion of souls than any literary equipment; yet, if any-
one should be lacking in this, he will often find that
his deficiency is a hindrance to the successful exercise
of his holy ministry. He is often without a library,
and far from learned men whom he could consult, yet
he must answer questions, settle objections against the
faith, and elucidate difficulties of an abstruse nature.
The greater the missionary's erudition, the greater the
esteem in which he will be held, chiefly if he dwells
among a nation which values intellectual accomplish-
ments. In all this it would be regrettable if the ministers
of truth were overtaken by the ministers of error.
Hence, whilst ecclesiastical students, whom God
should call, are trained for their apostolic expeditions,
they must by all means be initiated into every depart-
5 Tim. iv, 8.
The Popes and ike Missions ii
ment of knowledge, profane as well as sacred. This is
what We wish to be done, as is proper, in the Pontifical
Urban College for the Propagation of the Faith: and
We order that the college shall organise its own special
staff for the teaching of the science of the missions.
One of the chief items in the missionary's equipment
is clearly the language of the people to whose salvation
he is destined to devote himself. He should not rest
satisfied with a superficial knowledge, but it should be
thorough enough for a fluent and elegant command.
The missionary is at the service of all, the uneducated
as well as the learned, and he ought to know what power
a perfect command of the language gives to gain a
sympathetic hearing from a crowd. Above all, a diligent
missionary will not leave the duty of explaining
Christian doctrine to each catechist, but must reserve
this department to himself, not only as his own, but ^
as the most important portion of his task; for no other
reason was he sent by God save to preach the Gospel.
He will sometimes be called upon, as the ambassador
and interpreter of our holy religion, to approach
influential men, or to address an educated body: how
will he then preserve his dignity, if he cannot express
himself in their own native language?
This is what We have had particularly in view in
founding a special house of studies in Rome for the
spread of the Catholic name in the East, so that those
who are preparing themselves for the apostolate in those
countries may receive a serious grounding in the know-
ledge of Oriental languages and customs. As this
institute seems to Us to offer exceptional opportunities.
We hasten to exhort all the superiors of religious Orders
whose work lies in the East to send there their recruits
for the missions, so that they may avail themselves of
12 The Popes and the Missions
But to one who wishes to qualify himself for apostolic
work, there is one thing that he must acquire before
everything else, as being of the highest importance: it
is, as We have said, sanctity of life. For whoever
preaches God must be a man of God; whoever preaches
hatred of sin must himself hate sin. It is chiefly among
the Gentiles, who are led by sense more than by reason,
that preaching by deeds is more efficient than by words.
Granted, therefore, that the missionary be endowed
with every quality of head and heart, versed in sciences,
accomplished in every department of culture; if his
accomplishments are not supported by innocence of
life, they will be powerless instruments for the conversion
of the people — nay more, they may become harmful to
himself and to others.
Let him, therefore, be an example of humility,
obedience, chastity, and especially of piety, prayer and
constant union with God, before Whom he must fervently
plead for souls. The better united he is with God, the
greater will be his share in divine grace and assistance.
Let him heed the Apostle's counsel: "Put ye on there-
fore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, the bowels
of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience".'
It is by these virtues that truth finds an easy and direct
access to souls, and that all obstacles are removed;
there is no obstinacy of will that can resist them. Hence
a missionary who like Jesus Christ is burning with
charity and who is read,y to number among the sons of
God the most backward Gentiles, as the children of
redemption by the divine blood, is neither irritated by
their roughness nor roused by their moral perversity;
he neither despises nor scorns them; he does not treat
them harshly or bitterly, but he will strive to attract
them by all the good offices of Christian charity, to
6 Col. iii, 12.
The Popes and the Missions 13
(Jraw them all into the embrace of Christ, the good
Holy Scripture gives on this subject food for medita-
tion: "0 how good and sweet is Thy spirit, O Lord, in
all things ! And therefore Thou chastisest them that err,
by little and little: and admonishest them, and
speakest to them concerning the things wherein they
offend, that leaving their wickedness, they may believe
in Thee, Lord . . . But Thou, being master of power,
judgest with tranquillity.'"^
What difficulties, annoyances and trials could make
such an ambassador of Christ swerve from his resolve?
None whatever: dear to God as must be one who has
set himself such a sublime task, he will bravely face
all hardships and difficulties, work, insults, poverty,
hunger, and even death however cruel, as long as he can
snatch a soul from the mouth of hell.
Thus resolved and inspired, following in the footsteps
of Christ the Lord and of the Apostles, the missionary
will confidently apply himself to his task, placing, how-
ever, the full measure of his confidence in God. It is, as
We have said, a work altogether divine to propagate
Christian wisdom, for God alone can pierce through to
the soul, to light up the mind with the glare of truth,
warm the will in the flame of virtue, and endow man
with the strength to follow and obey what he knows to
be good and true. That is why, unless God stands by
His minister, his efforts are vain. Let him nevertheless
strain every nerve to carry out his resolve, relying on
the assistance of divine grace, which never fails him
Here we must not omit to mention the women, who
ever since the birth of the Christian religion have lent
their valuable assistance and given unstinted service to
the preachers of the Gospel. Worthy of special mention
7 Wisdom xii, i, 2, 18.
14 The Popes and the Missions
and praise are those virgins who have consecrated them-
selves to God and gone to the missions in great numbers
to devote themselves to the education of children, and
to numerous works of mercy and charity; We desire that
this commendation of their services may stir up their
courage and enthusiasm in the service of Holy Church.
Let them be convinced, however, that the more they
strive towards spiritual perfection, so much the more
will their work yield an abundance of results.
The Support of the Missions
It is gratifying to address all those who, by a special
favour of the merciful God, are in possession of the
true faith, and share in its innumerable benefits. They
should, first of all, consider by what sacred obligations
they are bound to lend their support to the missions
-<f among infidels. "For (God) gave to every one of them
commandment concerning his neighbour, "» which
commandment is all the more urgent in so far as our
neighbour is under a greater necessity. Who, in fact,
stands in greater need of our brotherly assistance than
the Gentile races which, in ignorance of God, are
enslaved to blind and unbridled instincts, and live under
th ^awlul servitude of the ,£YiLone? Whoever, therefore,
contributes in so far as in him lies to enlightening them,
chiefly by helping the missionaries, performs his duty
in a work of the greatest moment, and acquits himself
in a most acceptable manner of the debt of gratitude he
owes to God for the grace of his own faith.
The Support of Prayers
Support can be given to the missions in three different
ways, each answering the persistent requests of the
missionaries themselves. The first, which is within
everybody's reach, is to invoke God's protection. Again
8 Eccl. xvii, 12.
The Popes and the Missions 15
and again have We said that missionary undertakings
are dry and barren unless made fruitful by divine grace,
on St. Paul's own testimony: "I have planted, Apollo
watered: but God gave the increase". To the acquisition
of this grace there is but one way open, persevering and
humble prayer; for, as Our Lord says : "Concerning any-
thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them
by My Father".' If ever such prayers remain
unanswered, it cannot be so in this cause, than which
there is none more sublime and more agreeable to God.
As Moses, standing on the hill, raised his arms to
secure divine assistance to the Israelites battling with
Amalec, so must all Christians give the assistance of their
fervent prayers to the preachers of the Gospel exerting
themselves in the Lord's vineyard.
As the Apostleship of Prayer has been founded
particularly for the better performance of this duty, We
urgently recommend it to all the faithful. None should
fail to associate himself with it all, striving to take their
share in the apostolic work, if not by material assistance,
at least by their moral support.
The Recruitment of Missionaries
Then, again. We must remedy the scarcity of mission-
aries. Great as it was, it has become appalling during
the war, so much so that many portions of the Lord's
vineyard have lost their labourers. It is for this that
we make a special appeal. Venerable Brethren, to your
devoted activities. You will do a deed most consonant
with your love for your religion if, among your clergy
and in your diocesan seminary, you carefully nurse
the seeds of apostleship which you may discover in
them. Do not be misled by appearances or moved by
earthly reasons, as though the gift to the foreign missions
were the loss to your diocese. Instead of one priest
9 Matt, xvili, 19.
l6 The Popes and the Missions
you might send abroad, God will raise several priests
to do useful work at home.
The Selection of Missionaries
As to those who govern religious Orders and Congrega-
tions devoted to the missions. We pray and request
them to destine to such an important work none but the
choicest among their subjects; those who stand foremost
for the innocence of their lives, the fervour of their
piety and their zeal for souls. Then again, when
superiors know that their missionaries have successfully
accomplished their task and converted some nation from
unhallowed superstition to the Christian faith, and
have founded there a Church with sufficient prospects,
they should transfer them, as Christ's forlorn hope, to
some other nation to snatch it from Satan's grasp,
willingly leaving to others whatever they have acquired
for Christ, that they may carry on their work and
improve it. Having in this way gathered, so to say, a
rich harvest of souls, they will receive rich rewards of
divine goodness for the institutions to which they belong.
Support by Alms
Lastly, abundant resources are needed to keep up the
missions, and their needs have greatly increased since
the war by the loss of so many schools, hospitals, hostels
and other free sources of income. We here appeal to
all the faithful to exercise their liberality according to
their means. For "he that hath the substance of this
world and shall see his brother in need and shall shut
up his bowels from him : how doth the charity of God
abide in him?"io Thus speaks John the Apostle about
those who suffer from material want. But how much
more sacred becomes the obligation of the law of charity
in this matter where it is a question not only of relieving
10 I John iii, 17.
The Popes and the Missions ly
the poverty, destitution and other miseries of an infinite
multitude of men, but also and chiefly of reconquering
from Satan's proud dominion to the liberty of the
children of God an incalculable number of souls. Hence
We wish Catholics liberally to assist those holy works
organised for the support of the missions.
The Pontifical Mission Aid Societies
The first is known as the Propagation of the Faith, so
often praised by Our predecessors; and to increase its
usefulness in future, We order the Sacred Congregation
to devote special attention to the propagation of the
Christian faith. It must supply great resources to
support missions already founded and those about to
be established, but We are confident that the Catholic
world will not allow its own to suffer from want in the
dissemination of truth, when others are in abundance
who work for the dissemination of error.
The second work We strongly recommend is that of
the Holy Childhood, whose task it is to see that baptism
is administered to the dying children of the faithful.
This work is the more commendable as it is open to
the membership of children, who may thus learn to
appreciate the gift of faith and to contribute their help
to confer it on others.
Nor must We omit to mention the Work of Saint Peter
which provides for the education and the upkeep of the
indigenous clergy of the missions.
We wish to call your careful attention to the regulation
of Our predecessor Leo XIH, who stipulated that on
the feast of the Epiphany a collection should be made
in all the churches of the world "to redeem African
slaves", and that the collection should be sent to the
Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith.
But that Our wishes may be carried out with better
security and success, you must certainly, Venerable
Brethren, direct, so to say, the training of your clergy
i8 The Popes and the Missions
towards the object of the missions. The faithful, as a
rule, are willing and love to support apostolic men; but
you must make a wise use of this inclination, for the
great benefit of the missions.
Know, therefore, that it is Our wish that in all
Catholic dioceses of the world there shall be founded
what We would call a Missionary Union of the Clergy, to
be placed under the authority of the Sacred Congregation
of the Propagation of Faith, to which We have given all
necessary authority. Recently founded in Italy, it has
rapidly spread to other countries; and as it has flourished
with Our support, We have richly endowed it with
pontifical indulgences. And for good reasons, for under
its influence the activities of the clergy are excellently
directed, not only to the work of inspiring the faithful
with a zeal for souls, but also to carry on the various
institutions which the Apostolic See has patronised for
the benefit of the missions.
This, Venerable Brethren, is what We have felt com-
pelled to write to you about the propagation of the
Catholic faith throughout the world. If, then, everyone
acquits himself of his task as it behoves him, the mission-
aries abroad and the faithful at home, We may cherish
the fond hope of seeing the sacred missions reviving from
the wounds and the ruin of the war. Whilst the Lord's
voice urges Us as it once urged Peter: "Launch out
into the deep"," the fire of paternal charity presses Us
to drive into the Lord's embrace innumerable men. The
Church is ever fed and strengthened by the Spirit of
God; and the efforts of those apostolic men who have
laboured and are still labouring for her extension cannot
be without their fruits. Roused by their example, many
will henceforth arise who, supported by the piety and
the munificence of the faithful, will gather unto Christ
a cheerful harvest of souls.
11 Luke V, 4.
The Popes and the Missions 19
May the great Mother of God, the Queen of the
Apostles, bless Our common wishes by obtaining for the
preachers of the Gospel the graces of the Holy Ghost:
under His auspices, and as a proof of Our friendship.
We most lovingly impart to you, Venerable Brethren,
your clergy and your people, the Apostolic Benediction.
ON PROMOTING THE SACRED MISSIONS
Encyclical Letter of Ptus XI, February 28th, igzd
TN reviewing attentively the history of the Church, one
cannot fail to see how from the very first ages of
Christianity the especial care and solicitude of the
Roman Pontiffs has been directed to the end that they,
undeterred by difficulties and obstacles, might impart
the light of the gospel and the benefits of Christian
culture and civilization to the peoples sitting in darkness
and in the shadow of death. For the Church has no
other reason for existence than, by enlarging the King-
dom of Christ throughout the world, to make all men
participate in His salutary redemption. And whoever,
by divine commission, takes the place on earth of Jesus
Christ, the Chief Shepherd, far from being able to rest
content with simply guarding and protecting the Lord's
flock which has been confided to him to rule, on the
contrary, fails in his especial duty and obligation if he
does not strive, with all his strength, to win over and to
join to Christ all those who are still outside the fold.
Now it is well known that Our predecessors so carried
out at all times the divine commission wherewith they
were charged, of teaching and baptising all nations, that
priests sent by them — of whom the Church has publicly
venerated not a few, either for holiness of life or because
they courageously suffered martyrdom — zealously strove
with varying results to enlighten Europe and, later on,
unknown lands with our faith. We say, "with varying
results" for it sometimes happened that the missionaries,
after labouring with httle fruit, were either put to death
The Popes and the Missions 2i
or driven out. As a result, the field which they had
begun to cultivate, whether just emerging from wilder-
ness or already converted into a garden, when left to
itself was once more gradually overgrown with thorns
There is no doubt that this work was greatly aided
by the Apostolic Letter which Our predecessor of happy
memory addressed to the Bishops of the world on
November 30th, 1919, "On the Propagation of the
Catholic Faith Throughout the World"; because in that
letter, while the Pontiff stimulated the diligence and
the zeal of all the Bishops procuring help, he pointed out
to the Apostolic Vicars and Prefects with most wise
advice, the obstacles to be avoided and the methods to
be followed by their clergy in order to render more
fruitful the exercise of their sacred apostolate.
The Missionary Exhibition and Museum
As to Ourselves, Venerable Brethren, you well know
that from the very beginning of Our pontificate. We
determined to leave nothing undone that might day by
day extend through apostolic preachers the light of the
gospel and thus smooth the way to salvation for heathen
nations. It seems to Us that two special objectives ought
to be aimed at, both of which are not only opportune
but even necessary, and intimately connected with each
other; namely, that a much larger number of missionaries
well trained in the various departments of knowledge
be sent forth into the boundless regions that are still
deprived of the Christian religion, and that the faithful
may understand with what zeal, and with what
constancy in prayer, and finally with what generosity,
they should co-operate in a work so holy and so fruitful.
This is the object that We had in view when We
ordered that a missionary exhibition be held within Our
own Vatican grounds. We must give thanks to God
that, as We have heard, many young hearts, at the sight
22 The Popes and the Missions
of these evidences of both divine grace and human great-
ness and nobility received their first call to the mission-
ary life. So great was the admiration for the mission-
aries on the part of those who visited the exhibition that
We have every reason to believe that the latter will not
be without abiding fruit. That the most weighty lessons,
to which this exhibition testified with silent eloquence,
may not be forgotten. We have ordered, as perhaps
you already know, that a museum be established wherein
there may be exhibited in the best possible way the
more noteworthy mission objects.
This museum will be in Our Lateran Palace, in that
place whence, after peace had been given to the Church,
so many apostolic men celebrated for holiness of life
and zeal for religion were, century after century, sent
forth by Our predecessors into those regions which
seemed already white for the harvest. Thus all officials
in the army of missionaries, and the privates, too, so to
speak, who will visit this museum, after having com-
pared notes on their respective missions, will draw from
it inspiration for even better and greater projects. All
the faithful who visit it will. We believe, experience the
same emotion as did those who attended the original
Meanwhile, that the interest of the faithful in the
missions, which has already been stimulated, may be
even further increased, We make our appeal to you,
Venerable Brethren, imploring your help. And if your
help may rightly be employed in any undertaking, the
dignity of your office, as well as your filial affection
for Us, will not only prevent you from holding back
but will impel you at once to employ it here particu-
larly and employ it with zeal and diligence. For Our
part, as long as Divine Providence shall continue Us
in life, this duty of Our apostolic office shall keep us
always solicitous because, after pondering on the fact
that the pagans still number ahnost a billion. We have
The Popes and the Missions 23
no peace in our spirit^ and We seem to hear sounding in
•Our ears the words, "Cry; cease not; lift up thy voice
like a trumpet". 2
The Necessity of the Apostolate
There is no need to insist how foreign it is to the virtue
of charity, which embraces God and all men, for those
who belong to the fold of Christ not to have a care
for the rest who are unhappily straying outside the fold.
Surely the duty of charity that binds us to God demands
not only that we strive to increase with all our power
the number of those who know and adore Him in spirit
and in truth^ but also that we bring under the rule of
the most amiable Saviour as many as possible, in order
that from day to day, "the profit in His blood"* may
be more fruitful, and that we may likewise render our-
selves more acceptable to Him to Whom nothing can be
more acceptable than that men be saved and come to
a knowledge of the truth. ^
Since Jesus Christ proclaimed that the special mark
of His disciples would be that they loved one another*
can we vouchsafe to our neighbours a greater or more
signal charity than that of having them withdrawn from
the darkness of superstition, and instructed in the true
faith of Christ? Nay, this surpasses any other works or
testimonials of charity as the mind surpasses the body,
as heaven, earth; as eternity, time; and everyone
who exercises this work of charity to the best of his
ability shows that he esteems the gift of the faith as
much as it is meet and just that he should esteem it,
and moreover, he manifests his gratitude towards the
goodness of God by sharing with the poor pagans this
1 II Cor. xiii, 11.
2 Isaias Iviii, i.
3 John iv, 24.
4 Ps. xxix, 10.
5 I Tim. li, 4.
6 John xiii, 35; xv, 12.
24 The Popes and the Missions
same gift, the most precious of all, and with this gift
the others that go with it, or that are united to it. And
if none of the faithful can claim exemption from this
duty, can the clergy who by their moral election and
vocation participate in the priesthood and apostolate
of Jesus Christ; and can you. Venerable Brethren, claim
exemption who, adorned with the fullness of the priest-
hood, are divinely constituted pastors, each in his own
diocese, of the clergy and the Christian people? For
We read that Christ enjoined not only Peter, whose chair
We occupy, but all the apostles, whose successors you
are: "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the
gospel to every creature' '.^ it is evident from this that
the responsibility of propagating the faith belongs to
Us, on condition that you must unhesitatingly share
the work with Us and help Us as much as your own
particular pastoral -^duties will permit. Accordingly do
not consider it irksome. Venerable Brethren, to comply
as good sons, with Our exhortations, for from Us God
shall one day demand a strict accounting of this great
The Contribution of Prayer
First of all, both by the spoken and the written
word, strive to have introduced and gradually to extend
the pious custom of asking "the Lord of the harvest that
He send forth labourers into His harvest",* and of
imploring the divine light and grace for the heathens.
We insist on the custom and the regular practice, for it
is plain to all that this will have more efficacy with the
Divine mercy than prayer said once or only occasionally.
Even though the missionaries labour zealously, though
they work and toil and even lay down their lives in
leading the pagans to the Catholic religion, though they
7 Mark xvi, 15.
8 Math, ix, 38.
The Popes and the Missions 25
employ all industry and diligence and all human means,
still all this will be of no avail, all their efforts will go
for naught, unless God touches the hearts of the pagans
to soften them and to draw them to Him.
Now it is easy to see that everyone has the opportunity
to pray, and so to supply this help, the very nourishment
of the missions, is within this power of all. For this
reason, you will do a thing conformable to Our desire
and in keeping with the mind and sentiments of the
faithful if you order, for example, that some special
prayer for the missions and for the conversion of the
heathens to the true faith be added to the rosary of the
Blessed Virgin, and to other such prayers as are
customarily recited in the parish churches and in other
churches, and let the children and particularly religious
Orders of women be invited and encouraged to this end.
We desire namely, that in all institutions and orphan
asylums, in parochial schools, in colleges and in religious
houses of women, there should ascend to Heaven, every
day, a prayer that the Divine mercy may descend upon
so many unhappy beings and upon such populous pagan
nations. What can the Heavenly Father refuse to grant
to the innocent and chaste?
Moreover, such a practice leads Us to hope that the
tender-hearted young who have been accustomed to
pray for the eternal salvation of pagans from the moment
that the flower of charity first began to bud in their
young hearts may with the help of God, receive a voca-
tion for the apostolate; a vocation, which, if cultivated
with care, may perhaps in time supply capable workers
for the missionary field.
Let us touch in passing on a subject. Venerable
Brethren, that is worthy of your most attentive considera-
tion. No one is ignorant of the grave damage done to
the propagation of the faith by the recent war, when
26 The Popes and ike Missions
some missionaries, recalled to their own countries, fell
in the terrible conflict, while others, being removed from
the field of their activities, had to leave their missionary
work undone; damages and losses that have had, and
still have, to be made good, not only to bring back the
missions to the state in which they were before the war,
but also to ensure further progress.
Moreover, whether we regard the vast territories
which are still unopened to Christian civilisation, or the
immense number of those who are still deprived of the
fruits of the redemption, or the necessities and difficulties
which beset and impede the missionaries, through lack
of numbers, it is necessary that the Bishops and the
faithful co-operate in order that the number of Christ's
Ambassadors may increase and be multiplied.
If there be, in any of your dioceses, any young men
or ecclesiastical students or priests who seem called to
this most excellent apostolate, far from putting any
difficulties in their way, encourage them in their
ambitions and inclinations, by your favour and
authority. And although you are permitted to give their
vocations a fair trial to see if they are of God,' still if
you are convinced that their most salutary resolution
springs from and is fostered by Divine inspiration,
neither scarcity of clergy, nor any need of the diocese
ought to discourage you or keep you from giving your
consent, since your faithful have at hand, so to speak,
the helps to salvation, and are less far removed from
salvation than are the heathens, particularly those who
are still savages and barbarians. If the occasion arises,
therefore, suffer patiently the loss of one of your clergy
for the love of Christ and of souls, if indeed it can be
called a loss, since if you deprive yourself of a co-
labourer and a sharer of your toils, the Divine Founder
of the Church will surely supply the deficiency, by
9 I John iv, I.
The Popes and the Missions 27
showering more abundant blessings on the diocese and
by awakening new vocations to the sacred ministry.
Missionary Union of the Qergy
Nevertheless, in order that this work may be linked
up with the other cares of your pastoral office, see to
it that the Missionary Union of the Clergy be established
in your diocese, or, if it has been already established,
encourage it to renewed activity by your advice, exhorta-
tion and authority. This Union, which was provi-
dentially founded eight years ago by Our immediate
predecessor, was enriched with numerous indulgences
and was blessed under the authorisation of the Sacred
Congregation of the Council; in these last years, it has
spread over many dioceses of the Catholic world. We
Ourselves have honoured it more than once with indica-
tions of Our pontifical benevolence. All the priests who
belong to this Missionary Union, and all ecclesiastical
students, according to their status, pray particularly
in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and encourage others
to pray, for the gift of faith for the numberless multitude
of pagans. Everywhere and on every possible occasion
they preach to the people concerning the apostolate to
be carried on among the pagans, or they see to it that,
from time to time on certain days, very profitable confer-
ences on mission work are held. They spread mission
literature, and whenever they discover anyone giving
signs of a vocation to mission work, they direct him to
an institution where he may receive his preparation.
In every way possible they encourage and promote,
within the limits of their own diocese, the work of the
Propagation of the Faith, and all other works that are
subsidiary to it.
You are not unaware, Venerable Brethren, what
resources the Missionary Union of the Clergy has already
collected to help this good work, and how much they
have given signs of collecting in the near future as
28 The Popes and the Missions
the generosity of the faithful increases from year to year.
Some of you, Venerable Brethren, have been patrons
and sponsors of this Missionary Union in your own
dioceses; still it is to be desired that from now on there
be no cleric who is not inflamed with the love of the
The Work of the Propagation of the Faith
All Christian people should aid, through their gener-
osity, the work of the Propagation of the Faith which,
of all the mission organisations, is the principal one.
With due regard for the glory of the pious woman who
was the foundress of it, cind of the city of Lyons, We
have transferred hither the Propagation of the Faith;
We have re-organised it, and upon it We have, as it
were, conferred Roman citizenship, and given it charge
of all the missionary needs that exist at present, or that
shall exist in the future.
How many and great these needs are, and how poor,
for the most part, are the missionaries, was made clearly
evident by the Vatican missionary exhibition, although
it may be that many who saw it, dazzled by the
abundance, novelty and attractiveness of the exhibits,
did not sufficiently realise this. Be not ashamed there-
fore. Venerable Brethren, to make yourselves beggars
for Christ and for the salvation of souls, and, by your
pen and the eloquence which flows from your heart,
insist that your people, by their interest and generosity,
shall multiply and render more abundant the harvest that
the work of the Propagation of the Faith is gathering
Since therefore none are to be considered so poor and
naked, none so infirm or hungry or thirsty, as those
who are deprived of the knowledge and grace of God,
there is no one who does not see that mercy and a
divine reward shall not be wanting to him who has
shown mercy to the most needy of his fellows.
The Popes and the Missions 29
The Work of the Holy Childhood and the Work of
To the head organisation of the Propagation of the
Faith there have been added two others, as We have
said — the organisation of the Holy Childhood, and the
organisation of St. Peter the Apostle; and since the
Holy See has made them peculiarly its own, the faithful
ought to help and maintain them by offering from every
corner of the globe, in preference to other works which
have particular aims.
The object for the former is, as We well know, to
invite Our children to accustom themselves to set aside
their own money and offer it particularly to help pay
for the Catholic upbringing of pagan babies in places
where they are liable to be abandoned and put to death.
The object of the latter is by prayers and offerings to
make it possible for specially selected native ecclesiastical
students to receive the necessary training in the
seminaries in preparation for holy orders, in order that
those of their own race may in time be more easily con-
verted to Christ or be confirmed in the Faith. To the
Sodality of St. Peter, as you know. We gave a heavenly
patron not long ago, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, who
while she was a religious on earth made herself respon-
sible for and as it were adopted a missionary, in order
to help him, as was her custom, with prayers and
voluntary or prescribed corporal penances, and above all
by offering to her Divine Spouse the dreadful sufferings
of the disease from which she suffered. And We, under
the Virgin of Lisieux, promise Ourselves more abundant
In this regard, We rejoice greatly that many Bishops
have been pleased to number themselves among the
perpetual patrons of this work, and that seminaries and
other institutions have undertaken to meet the expenses
for the maintenance and instruction of some needy
30 The Popes and the Missions
These two works are usually called, and justly so,
branches of the principal work. Just as they were
recommended to the solicitude of the Bishops in the
Apostolic Letter mentioned above by Our predecessor
of happy memory, Benedict XV, so We in like manner
do not cease to recommend them to you, hopeful as We
are that you will not allow yourselves to be surpassed
in your generosity by non-Catholics, who with such
great hberality assist the propagators of their errors.
Exhortation to Vicars and Prefects Apostolic
We now turn Our attention to you, Venerable
Brethren, Beloved Sons, who through your long labours
and prudent service as missionaries have been found
worthy to be promoted by ApostoUc authority to
Vicariates and Prefectures.
First of all let Us speak of the progress in general that
the missions have made in the last few years, and which
is due to your charity and prudence, for which We
congratulate you and the missionaries who are under
your charge. What your principal duties are, and what
you particularly have to guard against in the fulfilment
of these duties, has been set forth with so much wisdom
and eloquence by Our immediate predecessor thai
nothing remains to be added. Yet it has seemed good
to Us, Venerable Brethren, Beloved Sons, to make
known to you Our mind on certain points,
A Native Qergy
First of all, let us recall to your attention how
important it is that you build up a native clergy. If
you do not work with all your might to accomplish this.
We maintain that your apostolate will be not only
crippled, but will prove to be an obstacle and an
impediment for the establishment and organisation of
the Church in those countries. We are more than willing
The Popes and the Missions 31
to admit and recognise that in some places steps have
been taken to overcome the obstacle by the erection of
seminaries in which native youths of good promise are
duly instructed and prepared to ascend to the dignity
of the priesthood, and to instruct in the Christian faith
those of their own race; nevertheless we are still at a
great distance from the desired goal. You remember the
complaint of Our predecessor, Benedict XV, of happy
memory, in this matter:
"It is sad to think that there are still countries where
tlie Catholic faith has been preached for several centuries,
but where you will find no indigenous clergy, except
of an inferior kind; sad to think that there are nations
who have fully seen the light of the Gospel, have reached
such a degree of civilisation as to possess men dis-
tinguished in every department of secular knowledge;
who for many centuries have come under the salutary
influence of the Gospel and the Church, and have yet
been able to yield neither Bishops to rule them, nor
priests to direct them."
The Value of a Native Clergy
Perhaps sufficient attention has never been paid to
the method whereby the gospel began to be propagated
and the Church of God to be established all over the
world. We touched on this subject at the closing of the
Missionary Exhibition, and recalled the fact that from
the earliest literary monuments of Christian antiquity
it is abundantly evident that the clergy placed in charge
by the apostles, in every new community of the faithful,
were not brought in from without, but were chosen from
the natives of the locality.
From the fact that the Roman Pontiff has entrusted to
you and to your helpers the task of preaching the
Christian religion to the pagan nations, you ought not
to conclude that the role of the native clergy is merely
3iJ The Popes and the Missions
one of assisting the missionaries in minor matters, and
merely following up and completing their work. What
is the object of these holy missions, We ask, except that
the Church of Christ may be instituted and established in
those boundless regions, and by what means shall the
Church be built up today, among the heathens, except
from those elements out of which it was formerly built
up among us; that is, unless it is composed of people
and clergy and religious Orders of men and women
recruited from its own region? Why should the native
clergy be prevented from cultivating their own field
— that is, from governing their own people? In order
that you may be able to make more progress in winning
over to Christ new converts from heathenism, will it not
help you greatly to be able to leave to the native clergy
the parts already converted, for them to guard and
cultivate? Nay, the same native clergy will prove to be
most useful, more useful in fact that it was ever
imagined, in extending more widely the Kingdom of
Christ, "for since the native priest" — to use the words
of Our predecessor — "by birth and temper, by sentiment
and by interest, is in touch with his own people, it is
marvellous how valuable he can be in instilling the faith
into the minds of his people". He knows, in fact better
than anyone else, the best methods to follow; and so it
frequently happens that he will often gain access where
a foreign priest could never gain entrance. Moreover,
foreign missionaries, on account of their imperfect know-
ledge of the language, are frequently prevented from
expressing themselves. As a result the force and efficacy
of their preaching are greatly weakened.
The Possibility of War, or of Political Change
Suppose owing to war or political upheavals there
is a change of government in some missionary territory,
and the request is made or a law passed that the foreign
missionaries of a certain country must leave : suppose
The Popes and the Missions 33
again, a more unlikely case, that the native population,
raised to a higher degree of culture and political develop-
ment in order to gain its freedom, wants to drive out
of their territory all governors, armed forces and mission-
aries belonging to the occupying foreign power, and that
it cannot do so otherwise than by force. What then,
We ask, would be the disaster that would threaten the
Church throughout all that territory, unless full pro-
vision has been made for the needs of the Christian
populace by a network of native priests throughout the
And moreover, since the saying of Christ likewise
holds good for the present condition of things, "the
harvest indeed is great but the labourers are few''.^"
Europe itself, whence most of the missionaries come, is
in need of clergy, and this at a time when it is very
important that, with the help of God, our separated
Brethren should be led back to the unity of the Church
and delivered from their errors. It is well known that,
if at the present time the number of youths called to
the priestly and religious life is not less than formerly,
still the number of those who heed the call seems much
From what I have said. Venerable Brethren and
Beloved Sons, it follows that it is necessary to supply
your territories with as many native priests as shall'
suffice to extend the boundaries of Christianity by them-
selves alone, and to govern the community of the faith-
ful of their own nation without having to depend upon
the help of outside clergy; and in fact in some places,
as We have said above, seminaries have been erected
for receiving native students. These seminaries are
being erected in central points between neighbouring
10 Math, ix, 37; Luke x, 2.
34 The Popes and the Missions
missions which have been entrusted to the same Order
or Congregation; and to these seminaries Vicars and
Prefects Apostolic send their chosen men and maintain
them at their own expense, to receive them back one
day as ordained priests prepared for the sacred ministry.
Accordingly, what has been done here and there by
some. We heartily wish, nay We command, shall like-
wise be done in the case of the other missions, so that
no native of promise may be kept away from the priest-
hood and apostolate, provided he give signs of a true
Of course, the larger the number of students that you
select for such formation — and there is need of a great
number — so much the greater will be the expense. But
do not be discouraged; confide in the most loving
Saviour of men, to Whose Providence We must look to
bring it about that 'the generosity of Catholics may be
increased so that there may flow into the Holy See the
means with which to give help more abundantly, and
to carry out a work so salutary. While each of you
should try to have as large a number of native students
as possible, you must further make it your aim to
fashion and develop in them sacerdotal sanctity and
such an apostolic spirit and zeal for the salvation of their
own people that they will be ready to lay down their
lives for their fellow-tribesmen and fellow-countrymen.
It is, moreover, most important that at the same time
these ecclesiastical students shall receive a scientific
education in sacred and profane studies according to the
best method and in courses that are not unduly hastened,
or curtailed, but that they shall follow the usual course
of studies. And be persuaded that if in the seminaries
you educate subjects conspicuous for the integrity and
purity of their lives, and well prepared for the sacred
ministry and most skilled masters of the Divine Law,
you will have prepared men who will not only attract
the attention of the leading men of the country, but
The Popes and the Missions 35
priests who will one day be destined to govern the
parishes and dioceses which will be erected as soon as
it shall please God that they should be, and We hope
not without great fruit.
Equality Among European and Native Missionaries
He errs grievously who considers such natives as of
an inferior race and of obtuse intelligence. For long
experience has shown that the peoples who inhabit the
remote regions of the east and of the south infrequently
are not inferior to us, and can even hold their own very
well in keenness of mind. But if you find extreme
slowness of mind in the case of men who live in the
very heart of barbarous regions, this is due to the con-
ditions of their lives, for, since the exigencies of their
lives are limited, they are not compelled to make great
use of their intelligence. But you, Venerable Brethren,
Beloved Sons, can testify to the truth of what We say,
and We Ourselves can testify, since We have under Our
very eyes the example of certain natives who, as students
in the colleges of Rome, are not only the equals of the
others in ability and in the results obtained, but
frequently even surpass them.
Moreover, you ought not to permit native priests to
be regarded, as it were, of an inferior grade, and accord-
ingly used only for the most humble offices of the
ministry, as if they had not been adorned with the same
priesthood as the missionaries, or as if they were not
taking part in the self-same apostolate. Nay, show them
the preference, as being the ones who shall one day
govern the Church founded with your sweat and
labours, and the future Catholic communities. Let
there not be any discrimination, therefore, between
European and native missionaries, and let there be no
line of demarcation, but let them be united in the bonds
of reverence and love.
36 The Popes and the Missions
Native Religious Congregations
And since, for the organisation of the Church in Our
regions, it is necessary, as We have already said, that
you make use of the elements from which by Divine
Providence it is composed, you ought, as a consequence,
to consider as one of the principal duties of your office the
founding of native religious communities of both men
and women. Should not these new followers of Christ,
when they feel themselves drawn to a more perfect life,
take the vows of religion?
And on this point, the missionaries and nuns who
labour in your dioceses should not let themselves be
prejudiced by a love of their own Congregations,
although that love is right and legitimate in itself, but
let them learn to view these things with a certain broad-
ness of vision. Accordingly, if there are any natives
desirous of joining the older Congregations, it certainly
would not be right to discourage them, or to impede
them from joining, provided they give signs of being
able to acquire the spirit of those Congregations, and
of being able to establish in their own countries houses
of the Order, not unworthy of the Congregation that
they have joined. Still, let them ponder seriously and
prayerfully the question whether it might not be more
expedient to found new Congregations such as may
answer better the genius and character of the natives,
and be more in keeping with the needs and spirit of the
Nor should We pass over in silence another point,
which is most important for the propagation of the faith;
namely, the importance of multiplying the number of
catechists — whether they be chosen from Europeans, or
preferably from the natives, who may help the mission-
aries, particularly by instructing catechumens and pre-
paring them for baptism.
The Popes and the Missions 37
It is not necessary to speak of the qualities which
should adorn these catechists that they may be able to
draw the infidels to Christ, more by the example of
their lives than by word. And do you, Venerable
Brethren and Beloved Sons, fervently resolve to educate
them with all solicitude, in order that they may learn
well the Christian doctrine, and that, in teaching it,
they may be able to adapt themselves to the character
and inteUigence of their catechism classes, in which work
their success will be in exact proportion to the intimate
knowledge they have of the mentality of the natives.
Up to the present. We have been speaking of the
selection and of the recruiting of the sharers of your
labours. Under this heading, however, it still remains
for Us to commend to your zeal a plan, which if it
should be put into effect, would. We believe, greatly
help the wider diffusion of the faith.
In what high regard We hold the contemplative life
is made abundantly clear by the Apostolic Constitution
wherewith We very gladly, two years since, confirmed
with Our apostolic authority the Carthusian rule which
had been revised in keeping with the new code of canon
law, a rule which from the very beginning of the Order
had been approved by the pontifical authority. Now,
just as We heartily exhort the higher superiors of similar
contemplative Orders, in like manner must you give
them repeated evidences that they may, by founding
such houses in the territory of the missions, spread and
promote the more austere kind of contemplative life on
the missions. For these contemplatives will obtain from
heaven an abundance of graces for you and for your
Nor is there any danger that these monks may not find
conditions propitious in your missions, since the inhabi-
tants, especially in some regions although mostly pagans.
38 The Popes and the Missions
tend naturally to solitude, and to prayer and to
In this regard, let Us call to your attention that great
monastery which the reformed Cistercians of La Trappe
founded in the Vicariate Apostolic of Peking, where there
are nearly a hundred monks, of whom the majority are
Chinese; and just as they, by the exercise of the most
perfect virtue, by continual prayer, by austerity of life,
by manual labour, placate the Divine Majesty and render
it propitious to themselves and to the pagans, so likewise
by the efficacy of their example do they win those very
pagans to Jesus Christ.
It is evident, therefore, that our hermits, while
maintaining intact the spirit of their founder and not
giving themselves to the active life, can nevertheless,
prove of great service for the success of the mission.
And if the superiors 'of these Orders heed your requests,
and establish houses of their subjects in places where
by common agreement it is judged best, they will do
something which will be, in the first place, salutary for
the great multitudes of heathens, and also more accept-
able to Us than We can say.
The Distribution of Missionaries
Now, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons, let Us
pass to a point that has to do with the better manage-
ment of the missions; and if in this matter Our immediate
predecessor has already given counsels and instructions.
We desire now to repeat them, because We believe them
to be of great advantage for the fruitful exercise of the
Since in great part the success of the Catholic missions
among the pagans depends upon you. We desire of you
a better organisation, which from now on may render
more easy the way of the propagation of Christian
doctrine and the increase of converts. See to it, there-
fore, that the missionaries are so distributed that no
The Popes and the Missions 39
part of your territory remains neglected, and that no
part is left for future evangelisation. Wherefore, spread
out by means of stations, leaving missionaries in certain
central points around which you may establish smaller
houses which are in charge at least of a catechist, and
furnish with a chapel, so that the missionaries may from
time to time come, on certain days, to visit and exercise
In the meanwhile, let the missionaries remember that
they must follow the same methods with the natives as
did the Divine Teacher when He was on earth. He,
before He taught the multitudes, was accustomed to
heal their sick, "and all that were sick He healed; and
many followed Him and He healed them all; He had
compassion on them and healed their sick"." He
ordered His Apostles to do the same, giving them the
power: "and into what city whatsoever you enter . . .
heal the sick that are therein and say to them: The
Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you"i2 and "going
out they went about through the towns, preaching the
gospel and healing everywhere".*' Nor should you let
the missionaries forget how kind and loving Jesus showed
Himself to infants and little children; and how when the
disciples remonstrated with Him, He bade them to suffer
the little children to come unto Him.** In this connec-
tion, let Us remind you of what We said on another
occasion, namely, that all who are interested in the
health of the inhabitants, and minister to the sick, and
all who are kind to infants and little children, win the
good will and affection of all, so readily does the human
heart respond to charity and kindness.
11 Math, viii, 16; Math, xii, 15; Math, xiv, 14.
12 Luke X, 8-9.
13 Luke ix, 6.
14 Math, xix, 13-14.
40 The Popes and the Missions
Churches and Missionary Buildings
But to return to the point already touched upon. If
it is necessary, in the places where you have taken up
your residences, Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons,
and in the more important centres, to erect larger
churches and other mission buildings, you must avoid
erecting churches or edifices that are too sumptuous
and costly, as though you were providing cathedrals for
future dioceses. All this will come in its own good time.
Do you know that in certain dioceses that have already
been canonically erected for some time, such churches
and buildings have only just been constructed or are
in the process of construction?
Likewise, it would be neither right nor advisable to
crowd together into one principal station, or into the
locahty where you reside, all the institutions erected for
the good of soul and body; because, if they are very
important, they will demand your presence and that of
the missionaries, and will absorb so much of your
attention as to make you gradually remit or even cease
your visits to the rest of your territory in the interest of
the propagation of the faith.
Since mention has been made of such institutions for
the care of the sick and for the distribution of medicine,
in addition, likewise, to elementary classes which you
ought to open everywhere, it is important that, with the
foundation of other schools for youths who do not intend
taking up agriculture, you open the way to them for
higher instruction, particularly of arts and trades; and
here We exhort you not to neglect the nobles of the
region and their children. It is true that the word of
God is received more readily by the poor and humble.
It is likewise true that Jesus Christ said of Himself
"the spirit of the Lord . . . hath sent me to preach
the gospel to the poor",i5 but we must also take into
15 Luke iv, i8.
The Popes and the Missions 41
account what St. Paul says, "To the wise and to the
unwise, I am a debtor".*^ History and experience teach
Us that when once the leaders of the people have been
converted to Christianity, the ordinary people follow
closely in their footsteps.
The Co-operation of Different Institutes
And, finally. Venerable Brethren and Beloved Sons,
by the well-known zeal with which you burn for religion
and the salvation of souls, receive, with minds that are
docile and prepared to carry it out promptly, this last
and most important recommendation. In tliose territories
which the Apostolic See has entrusted to your zeal to be
won for Christ Our Lord, it sometimes happens, since
they are often very extensive, that the number of
missionaries each of you has from his own religious
Institute is far less than what is needed. In similar
circumstances, even in fully established dioceses, addi-
tional priests, brothers, and sisters from different
religious families come in and help the Bishop. So too,
in the missions, do not hesitate to summon to your aid
as your co-workers missionaries who are not of your
own religious family, whether they be priests or belong
to lay Institutes. They can be called in to help in
spreading the faith, to educate the native youth and
to engage in other missionary activities.
Let religious Orders and Congregations take legitimate
pride in the foreign missions entrusted to them, as well
as in the harvest of souls so far won for Christ's King-
dom. But let them remember that they have not
received their portion of the Lord's vineyard by a kind
of private title in perpetuity. Rather they hold it at
the will of the Holy See, whose right and responsibility
it is to see that it is fully developed. The Roman
Pontiff does not fulfil his apostolic duty merely by
16 Kom. i, 14.
42 The Popes and the Missions
portioning out larger or smaller mission territories among
different religious Institutes. What is more important,
he must make it his continual and anxious care that these
Institutes send into the territories entrusted to them
missionaries sufficient in numbers and especially in
apostolic quality to preach the Gospel successfully
throughout the whole territory.
Therefore, since the Divine Pastor will require an
account of His flock at Our hand, We, without hesitation,
whenever it shall appear necessary or more opportune
and useful for the greater expansion of the Catholic
Church, will transfer the territories of the mission from
one Society to another, and will divide or subdivide a
territory, and will confide to the native clergy or other
Congregations new Vicariates and Prefectures Apostolic.
It only remains for Us to exhort anew all of you,
Venerable Brethreri, throughout the whole Catholic
world, to share with us the cares and consolations of
the pastoral office, to come to the aid of the missions
with the industry and with the means We have suggested
to you, in order that they, as it were quickened by
renewed strength, may bring forth a more abundant
harvest for the future. May Mary, the Most Holy Queen
of the Apostles, graciously support our common under-
takings; Mary, who, since she holds in her mother's
heart all men who were committed to her on Calvary,
cherishes and loves, not only those who happily enjoy
the fruits of the redemption, but those likewise who still
do not know that they have been redeemed by Jesus
Christ. Meanwhile, as an earnest of celestial favours and
as a testimony of Our paternal benevolence to you,
Venerable Brethren, to your clergy, and to your people,
We very lovingly bestow the Apostolic Benediction.
ON PROMOTING CATHOLIC MISSIONS
Encyclical Letter of Pius XII, June 2nd, ig^i
/^ATHOLIC missionaries toiling in a vast field of labour
"that the word of the Lord may run its course
triumphantly"! are in Our thoughts in a special way
on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the
Encyclical Letter Rerum EcclesicB^ of Our predecessor
of immortal memory Pius XI, wherein he laid down
wise norms for the greater development of Catholic
missions. The consideration of the progress this holy
cause has made in the intervening years has brought Us
no small consolation. As We remarked in an audience
on June 24th, 1944, to the directors of the Pontifical
Missionary Work: "The Catholic missionary movement
both in Christian and pagan lands has gained such force
and momentum, and is of such proportions, as perhaps
was never witnessed before in the annals of Catholic
In view of the upheavals and dangers of the present
time, when not a few people are divided by conflicting
interests. We consider it very opportune on the present
occasion to reiterate Our approval of this work. For
missionaries preach to all men the practice of natural
and Christian virtues and that brotherly and common
fellowship which transcends racial conflicts and national
1 II Thess. iii, i .
2 Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1926, p. 65 sq.
3 A.A.S., 1944, p. 209.
44 The Popes and the Missions
On that occasion, when We addressed the directors
of the above mentioned work, We made the following
observations among others : "... It is in keeping with
your apostolate not to be hampered by any national
frontiers; for your work, which unites you in fraternal
co-operation, clearly manifests to all that note of the
Catholic Church which rejects discord, fiees division,
and abhors all disputes which agitate nations and
sometimes bring them to utter ruin. We refer to that
Christian faith and universal Christian charity which
transcend all opposing camps and national boundaries
and reach out to the ends of the earth. They are the
motives that spur each one of you on to reach your goal,
which is the establishment of the Kingdom of God
throughout the whole world."*
We gladly avail Ourselves of this twenty-fifth anniver-
sary of the Encyclical Letter Rerum Ecclesice to express
Our appreciation of the work which has been accom-
pHshed and the great consolation it has given Us, and
further to exhort all to go forward with still greater
zeal; all Our Venerable Brethren in the episcopacy, We
mean; all missionaries, priests and individual faithful,
both in missionary lands and throughout the whole
world, who by their prayers, by training and helping
future missionaries, or by obtaining material aid promote
this most important work.
The Statistics of Progress
We should like first of all to touch here briefly on
the progress that has happily been made. In 1926 the
number of Catholic missions amounted to four hundred,
but today it is almost six hundred. At that date the
number of Catholics in the missions did not exceed
15,000,000, while today it is almost 20,800,000. At
4 A.A.S., 1944, p. 207.
The Popes and the Missions 45
that time the number of native and foreign priests in
the missions was about 14,800; today their number is
more than 26,800. Then all Bishops in the missions
were foreigners; during the past twenty-five years eighty-
eight missions have been entrusted to native clergy;
moreover, with the estabUshment of the ecclesiastical
hierarchy and the appointment of native Bishops in quite
a few places, it has become more apparent that the
religion of Jesus Christ is really Catholic, and that no
part of the world is excluded from it.
For instance, in China and in some parts of Africa
the ecclesiastical hierarchy has been juridically estab-
lished; three very important Plenary Councils have been
held, the first in 1934 in Indochina, the second in 1937
in Australia, and the third last year in India. Minor
seminaries have been greatly increased and strengthened.
The number of those studying in major seminaries,
which twenty-five years ago was only 1,770, is now
4,300; moreover, many regional seminaries have been
built. Attached to the College of Propaganda Fide in
Rome a Missionary Institute has been inaugurated; while
in Rome and elsewhere not a few university chairs of
missiology have been founded. Likewise in this beloved
city the College of St. Peter has been equipped to give
a more thorough and better adapted theological, moral
and apostolic training to native priests. Moreover, two
universities have been founded; high schools which
formerly numbered 1,600 today number more than
5,000; the number of elementary and primary schools
has been almost doubled; the same can be said for
dispensaries and hospitals where every kind of sick and
infirm, including lepers, are cared for.
In addition there have been the following develop-
ments: "The Missionary Union of the Clergy" during
this period has increased greatly; the Fides news service
has been established; almost everywhere missionary
periodicals are growing in number and enjoy a wide
46 The Popes and the Missions
circulation; many missionary congresses have been held,
among which that held in Rome during the Holy Year
deserves special mention, giving as it did a clear picture
of the nature and extent of the missionary work being
done; a short time ago a Eucharistic Congress was held
at Kumasi, on the Gold Coast of Africa, which wcis
remarkable alike for the number and piety of its partici-
pants; and, lastly, a special day in the year has been
appointed by Us to help with prayer and alms the
Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood. s All these
developments make it obvious that the work of the
apostolate has adapted itself to the changing conditions
and growing needs of our time by employing new and
more modern methods.
Nor must We omit to mention that during this period
there have been duly established in different regions
five Apostolic Delegations which are under the jurisdic-
tion of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide;
moreover, Apostohc Nuncios or Internuncios have been
appointed to a number of missionary territories. In
this connection it may be asserted that the presence and
activity of these Prelates have borne abundant fruit.
It is their special merit that greater co-ordination and
collaboration have been reahsed among missionaries who
are working towards a common end.
Our Legates likewise have contributed considerably
to this result. They often visit each district, and also
from time to time take part in Our name in meetings
of the hierarchy, during which the experiments which
have been prudently tried out by different local
Ordinaries are pooled to the common advantage, and
by common agreement easier and more efficient methods
of apostolate have been adopted. Besides, this fraternal
co-ordination of the activities of the faith has also been
conducive to a better appreciation of the Catholic
5 Epist. Proeses Consilii, A.A.S. , 1951, pp. 88-^io.
The Popes and the Missions 47
religion on the part of public authorities, even when they
What We have briefly written here about the progress
of the missions during the past twenty-five years, and
what We had the pleasure of witnessing during the
Holy Year, when considerable numbers from distant
missionary countries flocked to Rome to obtain grace
and to receive Our blessing, all this. We say, strongly
urges Us to repeat the burning desire expressed by the
Apostle of the Gentiles when writing to the Romans:
"... that I may have some spiritual gift to share with
you so as to strengthen your resolve; or rather, so that
the faith we find in each other, you and I, may be an
encouragement to you and to me as well''.^
It seems to Us that the Divine Master Himself is
repeating to everyone those words of consolation and
exhortation: "Lift up your eyes and see the countries;
for they are white already to harvest".'' But since the
number of missionaries is inadequate for present needs,
the following words are in a way the counterpart of that
invitation: "The harvest indeed is great, but the
labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the
harvest that he send forth labourers into his harvest. "«
It is a great consolation to Us to know that the number
of missionary vocations is happily increasing at the
present time and promises well for the Church; still
very much remains to be done; there is still much need
of prayer. When We consider the countless peoples
who are to be called to the one fold and to the one
haven of salvation by the preaching of these mission-
aries. We address to the heavenly Prince of Pastors
the words of Ecclesiasticus : "For as thou hast been
sanctified in us in their sight, so thou shalt be magnified
6 Rom. i, II-I2.
7 John iv. 35.
8 Matth. ix, 37-38.
48 The Popes and the Missions
among them in our presence, that they may know thee,
as we also have known thee, that there is no God beside
thee, O Lord".'
Under Persecution and Cireat Difficulties
Now this salutary progress of the work of the missions
has cost not only the ceaseless and great labours of those
who have sowed the seed of the Gospel, but also much
blood of martyrs. During the course of the centuries
there have not been lacking in some countries most
violent persecutions of the nascent Church; and in our
own time there are countries in the Far East which
are being made purple with the blood of martyrs in the
Scune cause. We have learned that many of the faithful
and also nuns, missionaries, native priests and even
Bishops have been .driven from their homes, despoiled
of their possessions and languish in want as exiles, or
have been arrested, thrown into prison or into concen-
tration camps, or sometimes cruelly done to death,
because they were devoutly attached to their faith.
Our heart is overwhelmed with grief when We think
of the hardships, suffering and death of these Our
beloved children. Not only do We love them with a
fatherly love, but We reverence them with a fatJberly
veneration, since We are fully aware that their high
sense of duty is sometimes crowned with martyrdom.
Jesus Christ, the first martyr, said: "If they have
persecuted me, they will also persecute you ".10 "In
the world you will have distress. But have confidence.
I have overcome the world."" "Unless the grain of
wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone.
But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. "12
Missionaries in foreign lands who die in the fulfilment
9 Exclus. xxxvi, 4-5.
10 John XV, 20.
11 John xvi, 33.
12 John xii, 24-25.
The Popes and the Missions 49
of their sacred duty are seeds destined, when God so
wills, to bear abundant fruit. Wherefore the Apostle
Paul asserted : "We glory in tribulations". i^ St. Cyprian,
Bishop and martyr, consoled and animated the
Christians of his day with these words: "The Lord has
willed that we should even rejoice over persecutions
because, when persecutions occur, then the faith is
crowned, God's soldiers are put to the test, and heaven
is opened to martyrs. We have not enlisted in an army
merely to think of peace and to decline battle, seeing
that the Lord, the master of humility, tolerance and
suffering, has taken the first place in the conflict, that
He might first do what He taught us to do and that He
might Himself first endure for us what He exhorts us
to endure. "14
The missionaries who toil in distant lands are
championing a cause not unlike that of the early Church. ^
For those who along with the Princes of the Apostles,
Peter and Paul, brought the Gospel to the citadel of the
Roman Empire found themselves in a rather similar
situation in Rome. If one remembers that the infant
Church at that time was devoid of all natural means
and was exposed to hardships, trials and persecutions,
one must be deeply struck with admiration at the sight
of a handful of unarmed Christians overthrowing what
was perhaps the greatest power that ever existed. What
happened then will undoubtedly often happen again.
Just as the youth David, who put his trust more in God's
help than in his own sling, laid low the armour-clad
giant Goliath, so the divine society which Christ
founded can never be overcome by an earthly power,
but is destined to come forth the serene conqueror of all
persecutions. Though We know well that this is due
to the indefectible divine promises, still We cannot but
13 Rom. V, 3.
14 St. Cyprian, Epist. LVI; ML, IV, 351A.
50 The Popes and the Missions
express Our gratitude to all those who have borne witness
to their unshaken and invincible faith in Jesus Christ
and in His Church, the pillar and ground of truth, ^s
exhorting them at the same time to continue in their
News very frequently reaches Us of their invincible
and virile faith, which fills Our heart with great consola-
tion. Though some have tried to separate the children
of the Catholic Church from Rome and from this
Apostolic See, as though patriotism and loyalty so
required, yet Catholics have been and are able to make
the fully justified rejoinder that, while they are second
to none in the matter of patriotism, they genuinely desire
to enjoy a rightful liberty.
Now what We have touched upon above must be
particularly borne in mind, namely that what still
remains to be accomplished in this field calls for an
enormous effort and innumerable labourers. Let us
remember that our brethren "who sit in darkness and
shadow"^^ form an immense multitude that can be
reckoned at about a thousand million. Hence it appears
that the ineffable sigh of the most loving Heart of Christ
is echoing still: "And other sheep I have that are not
of this fold; them also I must bring. And they shall
hear my voice : and they shall be one fold and one
There are some shepherds, as you know, Venerable
Brethren, who strive to lead away the sheep from this
one fold and haven of salvation; you likewise know that
this danger is daily growing greater. When We consider
before God the immense number of men without the
truth of the Gospel, and duly reckon the grave danger
that faces many from the prevalence of atheistic
materialism or from a certain so-called Christian creed
15 Cf. I Tim Hi, 15.
16 Ps. cvi, 10.
IT John X, 16.
The Popes and the Missions 51
which is infected by the tenets and errors of Communism,
We feel the deepest concern and solicitude that nothing
be left undone to promote the work of the apostolate
throughout the world. We make Our own the exhorta-
tion of the Prophet saying: "Cry, cease not, lift up
thy voice like a trumpet ".^^
We pray God especially for those missionaries who
labour in the interior of Latin America, since We are
aware of the dangerous pitfalls to which they are exposed
from the open and covert attacks of heretical teaching.
Principles of Missionary Work
With a view to promoting still more effectively the
work of evangelisation by our missionaries and to
prevent one drop of their sweat and blood from being
shed in vain, We should like here to explain briefly the
principles and norms that must guide the zeal and
activity of Catholic missionaries.
First of all it is to be observed that the person who
has been called by God to evangelise distant non-
Christian lands has received a very great and sublime
vocation. He consecrates his life to God in order to
spread His Kingdom to the farthest ends of the earth.
He "does not seek what is his, but what is Christ's"."
He can apply to himself in a special way those beautiful
sayings of St. Paul: "For Christ ... we are
ambassadors" .20 "Though we walk in the flesh, we
do not war according to the flesh. "21 "To the weak
I became weak that I might gain the we£Lk."22
He must, therefore, consider the country he is going
to evangelise as a second fatherland and love it with
due charity. Furthermore let him not seek any earthly
Is. Iviii, I.
Cf. Phil ii, 21.
II Cor. V, 20.
II Cor. X, 3.
I Cor. ix, 22.
52 The Popes and the Missions
advantage for his own country or religious Institute,
but rather what may help towards the salvation of souls.
Certainly he should dearly love his fatherland and his
Order, but the Church should be loved with a still more
ardent devotion. And let him remember that nothing
will be to the advantage of his own Order that is detri-
mental to the good of the Church.
Moreover it is necesary that those who are called to
this kind of apostolate should not only get the spiritual
and intellectual training that befits ecclesiastical students,
before going out on the mission-field, but should learn
in addition those subjects which will be most useful
to them when they come to preach the Gospel in foreign
lands. Hence they should be given a sound knowledge
of languages, especially of those which they will require
at some future date. Besides, they should be sufficiently
instructed in the sciences of medicine, agriculture,
ethnography, history, geography, and so on.
The object of missionary activity, as all know, is to
bring the light of the Gospel to new races and to form
new Christians, However, the ultimate goal of mission-
ary endeavour, which should never be lost to sight, is
to establish the Church on sound foundations among
non-Christian peoples, and place it under its own native
In a letter which We wrote on August 9th last year
to Our beloved son Pietro Cardinal Fumasoni-Biondi,
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide,
We mentioned the following points among others:
"The Church's aim is not the domination of peoples
or the gaining of temporal dominions; she is eager only
to bring the supernatural light of faith to all peoples,
and to promote the interests of civilisation and culture,
and fraternal concord among nations. "23
In the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud^* of Our
23 Epist. Perlibenti equidem; A.A.S., 1950, p. 727.
24 A.A.S., 1919, p. 440 sq.
The Popes and the Missions 53
predecessor of immortal memory, Benedict XV, given
in the year 1919, and in the Encyclical Letter Rerum
Ecclesice.^^ of Our immediate predecessor of happy
memory, Pius XI, it was laid down that the missions 1^
should have as the final goal of their activities the
establishment of the Church in new territories. And
We Ourselves when, as We have said, We received in
audience the directors of mission activities in 1944,
made the following statement:
' 'The magnanimous and noble purpose which mission-
aries have is the propagation of the faith in new lands
in such a way that the Church may ever become more
firmly established in them and as soon as possible reach
such a stage of development that it can continue to exist
and flourish without the aid of missionary organisations.
These missionary organisations do not serve their own
ends, but it is their task to use every endeavour to realise
the lofty purpose We have already mentioned. When
that has been attained, then let them be happy to turn
to other fields. "2^
"Wherefore let the missionary take up no permanent
abode in those places where the work of the apostolate
has reached full development, since it is up to him to
evangelise and sanctify the whole world. The mission-
ary's appointed task is to promote ever more rapidly
in district after district, till the last man in the most
remote comer of the earth has been reached, the King-
dom of the Divine Redeemer Who rose triumphant from
the dead and to Whom is given all power in heaven
and on earth.27" 28
It is clear, however, that the Church cannot be
properly and duly estabUshed in new territories unless
all is there organised as time and circumstances require
25 A.A.S., 1926, p. 65 sq.
26 A.A.S., 1944, p. 210.
27 Cf. Matth. xxviii, 18.
28 A.A.S., 1944, p. 208.
54 The Popes and the Missions
and especially unless a native clergy equal to the need
has been properly educated and -trained. In this con-
nection We should like to borrow the grave and wise
directives of the Encyclical Letter Return Ecclesice:
"... While each of you should try to have as large
a number of native students as possible, you must
further make it your aim to fashion and develop in
them sacerdotal sanctity and such an apostolic spirit
and zeal for the salvation of their own people that
they will be ready to lay down their Uves for their
fellow- tribesmen and fellow-countrymen. "2'
"Suppose owing to war or political upheavals there
is a change of government in some missionary territory,
and the request is made or a law passed that the foreign
missionaries of a certain country must leave : suppose
again, a more unlikely case, that the native population,
raised to a higher decree of culture and political develop-
ment, in order to gain its freedom, wants to drive out
of their territory all governors, armed forces and mission-
aries belonging to the occupying foreign power, and
that it cannot do so otherwise than by force. What
then. We ask, would be the disaster that would threaten
the Church throughout all that territory, unless full
provision has been made for the needs of the Christian
populace by a network of native priests throughout the
whole country? "30
We are profoundly grieved as We behold these con-
ditions which Our immediate predecessor described with
almost prophetic vision verified in many part of the
Far East. There what were most flourishing missions,
ripe for the harvest,^! are now, alas, reduced to the
direst straits. Would that it were permitted Us to hope
that the peoples of Korea and China, who are naturally
cultured and honourable and have been renowned from
29 A.A.S., 1946, p. 76.
30 Ibidem, p. 75.
31 Cf. John iv, 35.
The Popes and the Missions 55
early times for their high standard of civilisation, might
as soon as possible be freed not only from turbulent
factions and wars, but from the inimical doctrine which
seeks only the things of earth and scorns the things of
heaven; and, moreover that they might appraise rightly
the Christian charity and virtue of foreign missionaries
and native priests who strive only to promote the genuine
good of the people by their labours and, if necessary,
by the sacrifice of their lives.
We return heartfelt thanks to God that in both
countries a numerous clergy chosen from among the
people has grown up as the future hope of the Church,
and that not a few dioceses have been entrusted to the
care of native Bishops. That this stage of develoj>-
ment should have been reached redounds to the credit
of the foreign missionaries.
In this respect We think fit to point out something
which should be carefully borne in mind when mission
territory that has been under the care of foreign mission-
aries is entrusted to a native Bishop and clergy. It is
not necessary that the religious Institute whose members
tilled the mission field with their sweat should leave it
altogether when by decree of the Sacred Congregation of
Propaganda Fide the vineyard, which was cultivated
by them and is now flourishing, is handed over to other
husbandmen. It will be advantageous and becoming
that such a religious Institute should remain to co-operate
with the newly-appointed native Bishop. As in the
rest of the Catholic dioceses of the world religious
usually assist the local Ordinary, so in mission countries
let them not cease, though foreigners, to labour for the
Church in an auxiliary capacity. Thus what the Divine
Master proclaimed at the well of Sichar will be happily
fulfilled: "And he that reapeth, receiveth wages and
gathereth fruit unto life everlasting: that both he that
•soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. "32
32 John iv, 36.
56 The Popes and the Missions
Catholic Action in the Mission Fields
We desire to address and exhort in this Encyclical
Letter not only missionary priests but also those laymen
who "with a great heart and a willing mind"" collabor-
ate with the missionaries in the ranks of Catholic Action.
It can certainly be claimed that the lay co-operation
which we today call Catholic Action has existed since the
foundation of the Church, Indeed, the Apostles and
other preachers of the Gospel received no little help
from it, and the Christian religion thereby made great
advances. In this respect Apollo, Lidia, Aquila,
Priscilla and Philemon are mentioned by the Apostle of
the Gentiles. We have also these words of his to the
Philippians: "Yes, and I ask thee, who sharest the
yoke so loyally, to take part with them; they have
worked for the Gospel at my side, as much as Clement
and those other fellow-labourers of mine, whose names
are recorded in the book of life". 3*
Likewise all know that the Gospel followed the great
Roman roads and was spread not only by Bishops and
priests but also by public officials, soldiers and private
citizens. Thousands of Christian neophytes, whose
names are today unknown, were fired with zeal to
promote the new religion they had embraced and
endeavoured to prepare the way for the coming of the
Gospel. That explains why after about one hundred
years Christianity had penetrated into all the chief cities
of the Roman Empire,
St. Justinus, Minucius Felix, Aristides, the consul
Acilius Glaber, the patrician Flavins Clemens, St,
Tarcicius and countless holy martyrs of both sexes, who
strengthened and enriched the growth of the Church
by their labours and the shedding of their blood, can
in a certain sense be called the advance guard and fore-
33 ii Mach i, 3.
34 Phil. iv. 3.
The Popes and the Missions 57
runners of Catholic Action. Here We wish to cite the
striking observation of the author of the letter to
Diognetus,^5 which even today has a message for us:
"Christians dwell in their native countries as though
aliens; . . . every foreign land is their home and the
land of their birth is foreign soil".
During the barbarian invasions of the Middle Ages,
we see men and women of royal rank, and even work-
men and valiant Christian women of the common
people, using every endeavour to convert their fellow-
citizens to the religion of Jesus Christ and to fashion
their morals according to its pattern, so as to safeguard
both religion and the State from approaching danger.
Tradition tells us that when Our immortal predecessor,
Leo the Great, courageously opposed Attila, when he
invaded Italy, two Roman consuls stood by his side.
When formidable hordes of Huns were besieging Paris,
the holy virgin Genevieve, who was given to a life of
continuous prayer and austere penance, cared for the
souls and bodies of her fellow citizens with wondrous
charity. Theodolinda, Queen of the Lombards,
zealously summoned her people to embrace the Christian
religion. King Reccaredus of Spain endeavoured to
rescue his people from the Arian heresy and to lead
them back to the true Faith.
In France there were not only Bishops, such as
Remigius of Reims, Caesarius of Aries, Gregory of Tours,
Eligius of Noyon and many others, who were eminent
for virtue and apostolic zeal, but queens also can be
found during that period who taught the truths of
Christianity to the untutored masses and who gave
food and shelter and renewed strength to the sick, the
hungry and the victims of every human misfortune. For
example, Clotilda so influenced Clovis in favour of the
Catholic religion that she had the great joy of bringing
35 Epist. ad Diognetum, V, 5; ed. Funk, I, 399.
58 The Popes and the Missions
him into the true Church. Radegunda and Bathilda
cared for the sick with supreme charity, and even
restored lepers to health.
In England Queen Bertha welcomed St. Augustine
when he came to evangelise that nation, and earnestly
exhorted her husband Ethelbert to accept the teachings
of the Gospel. No sooner had the Anglo-Saxons, of
both high and low degree, men and women, young and
old, embraced the Christian faith, than they were led
as though by divine inspiration to unite themselves to
this Apostolic See by the closest bonds of piety, fidelity
In Germany we witness the admirable spectacle of
St. Boniface and his companions traversing those regions
on their apostoUc journeys and making them fruitful by
their generous labours. The sons and daughters of that
valiant and noble land felt inspired to offer their efficient
collaboration to monks, priests and Bishops in order
that the light of the Gospel might be daily more widely
diffused throughout those vast regions and that Christian
doctrine and Christian virtue might ever make greater
advances and reap a rich harvest of souls.
Thus in every age, thanks to the tireless labours of
the clergy and also to the co-operation of the laity, the
Catholic Church has not only advanced its spiritual
kingdom, but has also led nations to increased social
prosperity. Everybody knows the social reforms of
St. Elizabeth in Hungary, of St. Ferdinand in Castile
and of St. Louis IX in France. By their holy lives
and zealous labours they brought about salutary
improvements in the different classes of society by
instituting reforms, by spreading the true faith every-
where, by valiantly defending the Church and above
all by their personal example.
Nor are We unaware of the excellent merits of the
guilds during the Middle Ages. In these guilds artisans
and skilled workers of both sexes were enrolled, who,
The Popes and the Missions 59
notwithstanding the fact that they Hved in the world,
kept their eyes fixed upon the sublime ideal of evangelical
perfection. Not only did they eagerly pursue this ideal,
but together with the clergy they exerted every effort
to bring all others to do the same.
The same conditions which prevailed in the early da)^
of the Church are still to be found in many areas which
have been evangelised by missionaries; or at least their
peoples suffer disadvantages which had to be left to a
future generation to face and remedy. For that reason
it is imperative that the laity should in great numbers
enter the varied ranks of CathoUc Action, and thus
co-operate generously, earnestly and diligently with the
hierarchy in promoting the apostolate. The work of
catechists is assuredly necessary; yet no less necessary
is the industry and skill of those who out of pure charity
are ready to help gratuitously the ministers of God in
the performance of their duties.
We therefore desire that there be everywhere erected,
as far as is possible, associations of Catholic men and
women, and also of students, of workers, of artists,
of athletes, a?id other clubs and sodalities, which can
be considered the auxiliaries of the missionaries. In
the erection and constitution of these organisations, let
character, virtue and zeal be preferred to numbers.
It is to be borne in mind that nothing is more
efficacious in winning for missionaries the confidence of
fathers and mothers than devoted care bestowed upon
their children. If the minds of the young are moulded
to Christian truth and their characters fashioned accord-
ing to Christian virtue, they will enrich and bring
distinction not only to their families but also to their
communities. It not rarely happens that if the life
of a Christian community be in any way remiss or lax,
they succeed in restoring it to its pristine vigour.
Although it is clear that Catholic Action should
exercise its influence primarily in promoting the works
6o The Popes and the Missions
of the apostolate, its members are not prevented from
joining other organisations whose purpose is to reform
social and poUtical life according to the principles and
teaching of the Gospel; in fact, their participation not
only as citizens, but as CathoHcs also, is a right which
they possess and a duty to which they are bound.
Education in the Mission Fields
Since young men, and those especially who have
had the advantage of a classical and liberal education,
will direct the course of the future, no one can be blind
to the supreme importance of devoting the best care to
elementary schools, high schools and colleges. There-
fore with paternal solicitude We exhort superiors of
missions to spare neither labour nor expense in propor-
tion to their means ,in vigorously promoting this phase
of missionary activity.
The utility of schools for the young lies especially
in this, that they estabhsh advantageous relationships
between the missionaries and pagans of every class,
and above all, they more easily influence the docile
minds of the young to understand, appreciate and
embrace CathoHc doctrine. As we all know, the educated
youth of today will form the governments of tomorrow,
and the masses will follow their leadership and guidance.
The Apostle of the Gentiles propounded the sublime
wisdom of the Gospel before a learned audience when
in the Areopagus of Athens he proclaimed the unknown
God. Even though this method does not make many
converts outright to the teaching of our Divine
Redeemer, still there will be many who, as they contem-
plate the supernatural beauty of this rehgion and the
charity of its disciples, will feel its benign influence.
Schools and colleges are moreover especially helpful
in refuting the errors which now especially are daily
infecting more and more non-Catholic and Communist
activities, and which are being openly and covertly
The Popes and the Missions 6i
instilled, especially into the minds of youth.
An equally useful service is the dissemination of
timely publications. It is scarcely necessary for Us
to dwell at length on this point, for everyone knows
how effectively newspapers, magazines and reviews can
be employed either to present truth and virtue in their
proper light and thus to impress them on men's minds,
or to expose fallacies masquerading under the guise of
truth, or to refute certain false opinions which are
hostile to reUgion, or which do great spiritual harm by
a distorted presentation of vexed social questions. Hence
We warmly commend those Bishops who interest them-
selves in the widest possible distribution of printed works
of this sort which have been carefully edited. Though
much has already been done in this regard, much
remains to be done.
We also wish at this point to pay the highest tribute
of praise to the care taken of the sick, the infirm and
afflicted of every kind; We mean hospitals, leproseries,
dispensaries and homes for the aged and for maternity
cases, and orphanages. These are to Our eyes the
fairest flowers of missionary endeavour; they give us
as it were a vision of the Divine Redeemer Himself,
Who "went about doing good, and healing all that were
Such outstanding works of charity are undoubtedly of
the highest efficacy in preparing the souls of non-
Christians and in drawing them to the faith and to the
practice of Christianity; besides, Our Lx)rd said to His
Apostles: "Into what city soever you enter, and they
receive you . . . heal the sick that are therein, and
say to them: the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto
However, the brothers and nuns who feel that they
are called to undertake such work must, before leaving
36 Acts X, 38.
37 Luke x, 8-9.
62 The Popes and the Missions
their own country, acquire the professional training and
knowledge which are today required in these matters.
We know that there are nuns with full professional
qualifications who have earned well-merited recognition
by the special study of loathsome diseases, such as
leprosy, and by discovering remedies for them. These
and all other missionaries who are giving their service
so generously in leper hospitals have Our paternal
blessing, and their exalted charity compels Our admira-
tion and praise.
With regard to medicine and surgery, however, it will
certainly be advisable to enlist the services also of lay-
men, provided not only that they have taken the
necessary degrees for this work, and are willing to
leave their homeland in order to help the missionaries,
but also that in the matter of faith and morals they
leave nothing to be desired.
Social Problems and Communist Propaganda
Passing now to another aspect of the subject which
is of no less importance. We wish to speak of social
reforms demanded by justice and charity. Whilst the
propaganda of Communism, today so widespread, is
readily deceiving the minds of the simple and untutored.
We seem to hear an echo of those words of the Divine
Saviour: "I have compassion on the multitude". '*
It is imperative to put into practice with zeal and
diligence the right principles taught by the Church in
this matter. It is imperative to keep all nations free
from those pernicious errors, or, in case they are already
tainted with them, to set them free from these inimical
doctrines which represent the enjoyment of this world as
^ the unique goal to be attained by men in this mortal
life. At the same time, by subjecting everything to
y state ownership and control, they reduce the dignity of
38 Mark viii, 2.
The Popes and the Missions 63
the human person almost to nothing. It is imperative
to proclaim in private and in public that we are all
exiles making our way to our immortal home; and are
destined to eternal happiness, to which truth and virtue
must lead us. Christ is the only real defender of human
justice, the only true consoler of the human misery
that in this Hfe is unavoidable. He alone points out
to us that haven of peace, justice, and everlasting
happiness which all of us, redeemed by His blood, are
to gain after our earthly pilgrimage is finished.
However, it is the duty of all, as far as possible,
to mitigate the distress, sweeten the sorrow and relieve
the anguish of their brethren during this life.
Charity indeed can remedy to a certain extent many
unjust social conditions. But that is not enough. For
in the first place there must be justice which should
prevail and be put into practice.
While dealing with this point. We might quote Our
words to the College of Cardinals and the Bishops at
Christmastide, 1942 :
"The Church has condemned the various forms of
Marxist Socialism; and she condemns them again today,
because it is her permanent right and duty to safe-
guard men from fallacious arguments and subversive
influences that jeopardise their eternal salvation. But
the Church cannot ignore or overlook the fact that the
worker, in his efforts to better his lot, is opposed by a
machinery which is not only not in accordance with
nature, but is at variance with God's plan and with the
purpose He had in creating the goods of the earth.
"In spite of the fact that the ways they followed
are false and to be condemned, what Christian, and
especially what priest, could remain deaf to the heartfelt
cries that call for justice and a spirit of brotherly
collaboration in a world made by a just God? Such
silence would be culpable and unjustifiable before God,
and contrary to the inspired teaching of the ApoStle,
64 The Popes and the Missions
who, while he inculcates the need of resolution in the
fight against error, also knows that we must be full of
sympathy for those who err, and give due consideration
to their arguments, encourage and help them . . .
"The dignity of the human person, then, speaking
generally, requires as a natural foundation of life the
right to the use of the goods of the earth. To this right
corresponds the fundamental obligation to grant private
ownership of property, if possible, to all. Positive
legislation, regulating private ownership, may change
and more or less restrict its use. But if legislation is
to play its part in the pacification of the community,
it must see to it that the worker, who is or will be the
father of a family, is not condemned to an economic
dependence and servitude which is irreconcilable with
his rights as a person.
"Whether this servitude arises from the exploitation
of private capital or from State absolutism, the result is
the same. Indeed, under the pressure of a State which
dominates all and controls the whole field of public
and private life, even going into the realm of personal
opinions, projects and beliefs, the loss of liberty is so
great that still more serious consequences can follow,
as experience proves. "^^
To you. Venerable Brethren, who labour so well in
the Catholic mission fields, is given the task of carefully
putting these ideals and aims into practice. Ever
keeping in mind special circumstances and varying
conditions of time and place, take counsel together in
your Bishops' meetings, in your synods and other
gatherings, and strive by all possible means to establish
those social welfare associations, organisations, and
societies which the present time and the modem mind
seem to demand. Your pastoral office certainly requires
this, lest the flock entrusted to you be led astray from
59 A.A.S., 1943, pp. 16-17.
The Popes and the Missions 65
the right path by passion and by new errors disguised I
as truth and justice. In this task let the missionaries 1
who are your able co-operators, distinguish themselves
in promoting this apostolate. Thus they can be sure
that it will not be said to them: "The children of this
world are wiser . . . than the children of light".*" It
will moreover prove helpful if they, whenever possible,
gather round themselves qualified Catholic laymen of
outstanding character and practical ability, who can
take up and advance these works.
Co-operation Between the Religious Orders
In former times the vast missionary field was not
limited within the set confines of various ecclesiastical
territories, nor was it entrusted to different religious
Institutes to be worked along with a growing native
clergy. This, as all know, generally obtains today. It
even sometimes happens that some mission territories
are entrusted to the members of a particular Province
of a religious Institute.
We see the utility of this, of course, since by this
method the organisation of Catholic missions is con-
veniently facilitated. This arrangement, however, may
give rise to serious inconveniences, which must be :)i^
remedied as far as possible. Our predecessors have
touched this point in the Letters*^ to which We have
already referred. In this matter they have laid down
wise norms. We repeat them here and ratify them,
paternally exhorting you "to accept and comply with
them religiously in keeping with your well-known zeal
for religion and the salvation of souls":
"In those territories which the Apostolic See has
entrusted to your zeal to be won to Christ Our Lord, it
sometimes happens, since they are often very extensive,
that the number of missionaries each of you has from
40 Luke xvi, 8.
41 Cf. A.A.S., 1919, p. 444; and A.A.S., 1926, pp. 81-82.
66 The Popes and the Missions
his own religious Institute is far less than what is needed.
In similar circumstances, even in fully established
dioceses, additional priests, brothers, and sisters from
different religious families come in and help the Bishop.
^ So too in the missions, do not hesitate to summon to
your aid as your co-workers missionaries who are not
of your own religious family, whether they be priests or
belong to lay Institutes. They can be called in to help
in spreading the faith, to educate the native youth and
to engage in other missionary activities. Let religious
Orders and Congregations take legitimate pride in the
foreign missions entrusted to them, as well as in the
harvest of souls so far won for Christ's Kingdom. But
let them remember that they have not received their
jj, portion of the Lord's vineyard by a kind of private title
/ in perpetuity. Rather they hold it at the will of the
Holy See, whose right and responsibility it is to see that
it is fully developed. The Roman Pontiff does not fulfil
his apostolic duty merely by portioning out larger or
smaller mission territories among different religious
Institutes. What is more important, he must make it
his continual and anxious care that these Institutes send
into the territories entrusted to them missionaries
sufficient in numbers and especially in apostolic quality
to preach the Gospel successfully throughout the whole
Respect for Existing Customs
Another end remains to be achieved; and We desire
that all should fully understand it. The Church from
the beginning down to our own time has always followed
this wise practice: let not the Gospel, on being intro-
duced into any new land, destroy or extinguish what-
ever its people possess that is naturally good, just or
beautiful. For Ae Church, when she calls people to a
4S A.A.S., 1926, pp. 81-82.
The Popes and the Missions 67
higher culture and a better way of life under the inspira-
tion of the Christian religion, does not act like one who
recklessly cuts down and uproots a thriving forest. No,
she grafts a good scion upon the wild stock that it may
bear a crop of more delicious fruit.
Human nature, though owing to Adam's fall it is
tainted with original sin, has in itself something that
is naturally Christian ;43 and this, if illumined by divine
light and nourished by God's grace, can eventually be
changed into true and supernatural virtue.
This is the reason why the Catholic Church has
neither scorned nor rejected the pagan philosophies..
Instead, after freeing them from error and all contamina-
tion she has perfected and completed them by Christian
revelation. So likewise the Church has graciously made
her own the native art and culture which in some
countries is so highly developed. She has carefully
encouraged them and has brought them to a point of
aesthetic perfection that of themselves they probably
would never have attained. By no means has she-^
repressed native customs and traditions but has given
them a certain religious significance; she has even
transformed their feast days and made them serve to
commemorate the martyrs and to celebrate mysteries
of the faith.
In this connection, St. Basil says very well:
"Just as dyers prepare the material to be dyed by
certain processes beforehand, and only when this has
been done do they colour it with purple or some other
colour; likewise if the unfading glory of the just is to
be ours for all time we shall first be prepared by these
external rites and then we shall master the teachings
and mysteries of faith. When we become accustomed
to looking at the reflection of the sun in the water, we
shall turn to gaze upon the sun itself . . . Certainly
« Cf. TertuU., Apologet., cap. XVII; ML, I, 377A.
68 The Popes and the Missions
the essential function of a tree is to produce fruit in
season; still the foliage that its branches also bear serves
to adorn it. In the same way the primary fruit of the
soul is truth itself; but the garb of natural culture is a
welcome addition, just as leaves provide shade for the
fruit and add to its beauty. Thus Moses, a man of the
greatest renown for his wisdom, is said to have come
to the contemplation of Him Who is, only after being
trained in Egyptian lore. So later the wise Daniel is
said to have been first schooled in Babylon in the
wisdom of the Chaldeans, and only then to have come
to know divine Revelation."**
We Ourselves made the following statement in the
first Encyclical Letter We wrote, Summi Pontificatus:
"Persevering research carried out with laborious
study, on the part of her missionaries of every age, has
been undertaken in order to facilitate the deeper appre-
ciative insight into the various civiUsations and to utilise
their good qualities to facilitate and render more fruitful
the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. Whatever there
is in the native customs that is not inseparably bound
up with superstition and error will always receive kindly
consideration and, when possible, will be preserved
And in the discourse which We gave in 1944 to the
directors of the Pontifical Mission Aid Societies, We said :
"The herald of the Gospel and messenger of Christ is
an apostle. His office does not demand that he trans-
plant European civilisation and culture, and no other,
to foreign soil, there to take root and propagate itself.
His task in dealing with these peoples, who sometimes
boast a very old and highly developed culture of their
own, is to teach and form them so that they are ready
to accept willingly and in a practical manner the
principles of Christian life and morality; principles, I
44 St. Basil., Ad adolescentes. 2; MG., XXXI. 567A.
45 A.A.S., 1939, p. 429.
The Popes and the Missions 69
might add, that fit into any culture, provided it be good
and sound, and which give that culture greater force in
safeguarding human dignity and in gaining human
happiness. Catholic inhabitants of missionary countries,
although they are first of all citizens of the Kingdom of
(iod and members of His great family ,^6 do not for all
that cease to be citizens of their earthly fatherland."*'
Our predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI, in the
Jubilee Year 1925, ordered a great missionary exhibition
to be held: he described its striking success in the
following words: "It seems almost a miracle, which
gives us a new experimental proof of the vital unity and
harmony of the Church of God among all nations . . .
Indeed, the Exhibition was and still is like a missionary
From a desire to make known as widely as possible
the outstanding merits of missionary endeavour, more
especially in the field of culture. We also ordered that
during the past Holy Year a large number of exhibits be
collected, and We appointed, as you know, that they be
shown pubhcly near the Vatican, in order to demon-
strate clearly how missionaries have introduced Christian
civilisation into nations of advanced and less advanced
This has shown how much the work of the preachers
of the Gospel has contributed to the development of the
fine arts and of university studies. It has shown also
that the Church is no obstacle to the native talent of j^
any nation, but rather perfects it in the highest degree.
We thank the Divine Goodness that all enthusiastically
welcomed and encouraged this undertaking, which
clearly proved that the missions are increasing and
developing in influence and importance. Thanks to the
activity of the missionaries, the Gospel spirit has been
46 Cf. Ephes. ii, 19.
47 A.A.S., 1944, p. 210.
48 Allocution of Jan. loth, 1926.
70 The Popes and the Missions
able so to imbue the minds of peoples of different
customs, living in widely separated regions, that it has
borne eloquent testimony of a new flowering of the fine
arts. Once again it has been proved that the Christian
faith, when cordiaUy accepted and lived, is the one
thing capable of inspiring the finest works of art, which
works redound to the praise of the Catholic Church and
lend beauty to divine worship.
You no doubt remember how warmly the Encyclical
Letter Rerum Ecclesus recommended the Missionary
Union of the Clergy, whose object is to unite the com-
bined energy of clergy, secular and regular, and of
ecclesiastical students in furthering the cause of the
missions in every possible way. Having had the happi-
ness to witness the success of this Union, as We have
mentioned. We earnestly desire that it increase and
spread ever more widely and arouse both priests and
people to work ever more zealously for the cause of
This Union is the source from which depends the
success of the other Pontifical Societies of the Propaga-
tion of the Faith, of St. Peter the Apostle for Native
Clergy, and of the Holy Childhood. There is no need
for Us at present to dwell on the importance, necessity
and outstanding merits of these Societies, which Our
predecessors have enriched with numerous indulgences.
We fully approve that the faithful be asked to contribute
generously, especially on Mission Sunday. But We
desire first and foremost that all pray to Almighty God,
that they help those called to missionary work, and
that they join and promote as much as possible the
Pontifical Societies We have mentioned. You are quite
aware. Venerable Brethren, that We recently instituted
a special children's festival to help the Society of the
Holy Childhood with prayers and alms. These little
children of Ours are thus accustomed to pray earnestly
for the salvation of the infidel; and may it be the means
The Popes and the Missions 71
of sowing the seed of a missionary vocation in their
innocent hearts and of fostering its growth.
Besides, a tribute of well deserved praise must be
paid to the society which has been providentially founded
to provide missionaries with what they need for the
sacred ministry. We also express Our paternal approval
of those societies of women who so usefully devote
themselves to making vestments and altar linen. And
finally We declare to all Our beloved priests of the
whole Church that the work done by the faithful for
the salvation of the infidel produces splendid results by \k
way of renewing their own faith; and an increase of/V
virtue keeps pace with an increase in missionary zeal. ''
We should not like to conclude this Encyclical Letter
without addressing Ourselves earnestly to the clergy and
all the faithful to express to them particularly Our
warm gratitude. We understand that this year also there
is a great increase in the generous help and support
given by Our children to the missions. Your charity
can certainly be employed in no better cause, since it is
thus destined to propagate the Kingdom of Christ and
to bring salvation to so many still outside the fold. It
is the Lord Himself Who "gave ... to everyone of
them commandment concerning his neighbour" .^9
In this connection the warning which We gave in Our
Letter to Our beloved son Pietro Cardinal Fumasoni
Biondi, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Propa-
ganda Fide, on August 9th, 1950, We should like to
inculcate once again in view of the new danger that
now threatens: "Let all the faithful . . . continue in
their determination to support the missions, multiplying .
their activities on their behalf, ceaselessly praying
fervently to God for them, aiding missionaries and pro- I
viding for their needs as far as they can.
"The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, in which
49 Ecclus. xvii, 12.
72 The Popes and the Missions
'if one part is suffering, all the rest suffer with it' .^
Hence, since many of these members today are being
tortured and maltreated, it is the sacred duty of the
faithful to be united with them in a sincere and deep
sympathy. In some parts of the missions the scourge
of war has mercilessly razed to the ground churches and
mission stations, schools and hospitals. To restore these
losses and to reconstruct so many buildings, the whole
Catholic world, which has proved its special care for
and love of the missions, will generously furnish the
necessary help." si
Venerable Brethren, you are well aware that almost
the whole human race is today allowing itself to be
driven into two opposing camps, for Christ or against
Christ. The human race is involved today in a supreme
crisis, which will issue in its salvation by Christ, or in
its dire destruction. The preachers of the Gospel are
using their talents and energy to extend the Kingdom
of Christ; but there are other preachers who, since they
profess materialism and reject all hope of eternal happi-
ness, are trying to drag men down to an abject condition.
With all the more reason, then, does the Catholic
Church, most loving mother of all men, call on all her
children to be zealous in helping these intrepid mission-
aries by their offerings, by prayer and by fostering
missionary vocations. In motherly fashion she compels
them to wear the livery of tender compassion, 52 and
to take part, if not in the actual apostolate, at least by
zealous co-operation and not allow the wish of the most
loving Heart of Jesus to remain unrealised. Who "came
to seek and to save what was lost"." If they help in
any way to bring the light and consolations of the faith
to one hearth, let them understand that a divine force
I Cor. xii, 26.
A.A.S., 1950, pp. 727-728.
Cf. Coloss. iii, 12.
Luke xix, 10.
The Popes and the Missions 73
has been thus released, which will keep on growing in
momentum throughout the ages. If they help even one
candidate for the priesthood, they will fully share in
all the future Masses and in all the fruits of sanctity
and apostolic works that will be his. Indeed all the
faithful make up one and the same immense family who
as members of the Church militant, suffering and
triumphant share their benefits with one another. There
seems to be nothing more apt than the dogma of the
communion of saints for bringing home to the people the
utility and importance of the missions.
With these paternal good wishes and the indication
of timely principles and norms, We hope that on the
twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the
Encyclical Letter Rerum Ecclesice all Catholics will
avail themselves of this propitious occasion to ensure
new and ever greater progress for the missions.
With this cherished hope We impart to each of you.
Venerable Brethren, to all the clergy and people, and
especially to those who promote this most holy cause,
either at home by prayer and offerings, or by their
labours in foreign lands, as a pledge of heavenly graces
and of Our paternal affection, the Apostolic Benediction.
ON THE PRESENT STATE OF THE CATHOLIC
MISSIONS ESPECIALLY IN AFRICA
Encyclical Letter of Pius XII, April 21st, ig^y
nPHE incomparable riches which God deposits in our
souls with the gift of faith should give rise to
immense gratitude. The P'aith, in fact, introduces us
to the secret mysteries of the divine life. In it are
founded all our hopes, and even in this earthly life it
strengthens and reinforces the bond of the Christian
community, as the Apostle said: "One Lord, one Faith,
one baptism".^ It is the gift above all others which
places on our lips the hymn of gratitude : ' 'What shall
I render to the Lord for all the things that He hath
rendered to me? "2
What will we offer to the Lord in exchange for this
divine gift, other than the homage of the spirit, if not
our zeal to diffuse among men the splendour of divine
truth? The missionary spirit, animated by the fire of
charity, is in some way the first answer to our gratitude
towards God, in communicating to our brothers the
Faith which we have received.
Considering on the one hand the innumerable legions
of Our sons who, especially in lands of ancient Christian
tradition, are participants in the riches of the faith, and
on the other hand the even more numerous mass of those
who are still waiting for the message of salvation, We
feel the ardent desire to exhort you. Venerable Brethren,
to support with your zeal the holy cause of the expansion
1 Eph. iv, 5.
2 Ps. 115, 12.
The Popes and the Missions 75
of the Church in the world. May it be God's will that,
following Our appeal, the missionary spirit may pene-
trate more deeply in the hearts of all priests and, through
their ministry, inflame all the faithful.
The Gift of Faith
It is certainly not the first time, as you well know,
that We and Our predecessors have addressed you on
this serious matter, which is particularly suited to
nurturing the apostolic fervour of Christians who are
become more conscious of the demands consequent upon
the faith received from God.
This fervour directs itself toward the de-Christianised
regions of Europe and the vast territories of South
America, where We know that the needs are great. It
places itself at the service of so many important missions
of Oceania and Asia, where more than an57where else the
struggle is difficult. It gives fraternal support to
thousands of Christians, especially dear to Our heart,
who are the honour of the Church because they know
the evangelical beatitude of those who "suffer persecu-
tion for justice's sake".' It has pity on the spiritual
poverty of the innumerable victims of modem atheism,
above all for the young who grow up in ignorance and
sometimes in their hatred for God.
All are necessary and urgent tasks which require
from everyone a reawakening of apostolic energy,
creating "great legions of apostles similar to those which
the Church knew at her dawn".* But, while keeping
these indispensable tasks present in Our mind and in
Our prayer, while recommending them to your zeal,
it has seemed necessary to Us to turn your attention to
Africa today, in the hour in which she is being opened
3 Matt. V, lo.
4 Acta Apostolicae Sedis XLIV, 1952, p. 370.
76 The Popes and the Missions
up to the life of the modern world, and passing through
what may prove to be the most important years of her
I. THE CHURCH IN AFRICA
The expansion of the Church in Africa over the last
decades is a reason for joy and pride among all
According to the pledge We took at the time of Our
elevation to the Supreme Pontificate, "to spare no effort
in order that ... the Cross in which is salvation and
life, may extend its shadow to the most remote regions
of the world", 5 We have supported the progress of the
Gospel on that continent with all Our power.
Ecclesiastical districts have been increased. The
number of Catholics has increased considerably and
continues to grow at a rapid pace. We have had the
joy of establishing the hierarchy in many countries and
of raising many African priests to the fullness of the
priesthood, in conformity with the "ultimate purpose"
of missionary labour, which is to establish the Church
"firmly and permanently among new peoples". *
Thus the young African churches today take the place
which awaits them in the great Catholic family, greeted
with fraternal love by older-established dioceses which
have gone before them in the faith. Legions of apostles,
priests, religious Orders of men and women, catechists
and lay helpers have thus achieved comforting results,
thanks to a labour whose hidden sacrifices are known
only to God. To each and all of them We extend Our
5 Allocution of May ist, 1939 — EHscourses and Radio
Messages, vol. I, p. 87.
6 Encyclical Evangelii Praecones — Acta Apostolicac Sedis
XLin, 1 95 1, p. 507.
The Popes and the Missions 77
paternal gratitude and felicitations. There, as every-
where, the Church can be proud of the work of her
The Urgency of the Task
Nevertheless, the greatness of the accomplished task
should not make one forget that "the work which
remains to be done requires an immense effort and
innumerable workers".- At a time when the establish-
ment of the hierarchy might erroneously lead one to
believe that missionary activity is nearing its end, the
"care of all the churches''^ of the vast African continent
tills Our soul with anxiety more than ever.
How then could We not be stricken at heart when
We consider, from this ApostoHc See, the grave
problems imposed there upon the extension and
deepening of Christian life? How could We not be
touched when We compare the size and urgency of the
tasks with the extremely small number of apostolic
workers and their lack of means?
This suffering We confide to you, Venerable Brethren,
and it pleases Us to think that the promptness and
generosity of your response will once more spark hope
in the hearts of so many generous apostles.
The general conditions under which the work of the
Church in Africa is carried out are known to you. They
are difficult. The majority of these territories are going
through a phase of social, economic and political evolu-
tion which is full of consequences for their future. It is
necessary to recognise that the numerous influences of
international life upon local situations do not always
allow even the wisest rulers to judge the measures which
would be necessary for the true welfare of these people.
7 Ibid, p. 505.
8 II Cor. xi. 28.
78 The Popes and the Missions
A Spirit of Understanding
The Church, which has seen so many nations born
and grow up during the past centuries, csinnot but
give particular heed today to the accession of new
peoples to the responsibilities of political freedom.
Several times already have We invited the nations
concerned to proceed along this road in a spirit of peace
and mutual understanding. "Would that a just and
progressive political freedom be not denied to these
people (who aspire to it) and that no obstacle be set
in the way," We said to some. We warned others "to
credit Europe with their progress, without whose
influence, extended to all fields, they could have been
led by a blind nationalism to hurl themselves into chaos
In renewing here this double exhortation, We express
Our wish that a task of constructive collaboration may
be carried out in Africa; a collaboration free of prejudices
and mutual sensitiveness, preserved from the seductions
and strictures of false nationalism, and capable of
extending to these people, rich in resources and future,
the true values of Christian civilisation, which have
already borne so many good fruits in other continents.
We know that atheistic materialism has, alas, spread
its virus of division throughout various regions of
Africa, stirring up passions, making peoples and races
rise against one another, making use of real difficulties
to seduce minds with easy mirages or to sow rebellion
in hearts. In Our solicitude for a genuine human and
Christian progress of the African peoples, We wish to
renew here in their regard the grave and solemn admoni-
tions which We have already addressed on this subject
to the Catholics of the entire world. We congratulate
their pastors who, on more than one occasion, have
9 Christmas Message 1955 — Acta Apostolicae Sedis XLVIII,
1956, p. 40.
The Popes and the Missions 79
already firmly denounced to their faithful the dangers
to which they are exposed by these false shepherds.
The Spread of Islam
But while the enemies of the name of God multiply
their insidious and violent efforts on that continent, it
is necessary to denounce other serious obstacles which
run counter to the progress of evangelisation in certain
regions. In particular you know the easy attraction
exercised upon a great number of minds by a religious
concept of life which, although calling strongly upon
the deity, none the less attracts its followers to a way
which is not that of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of
all people. As a Father Our heart is open to all men
of good will. But, being the Vicar of Him Who is the
Way, the Truth and the Life, We cannot consider such
a state of affairs without great sorrow.
There are other causes for this state of affairs. In
many Ccises they are recent historic causes, and they are
not always unconnected with the attitude of nations who
take a pride in their Christian past. There is cause
for serious concern for the Catholic future of Africa
in this. Specifically, will the sons of the Church under-
stand their obligation to help the missionaries of the
Gospel more effectively to announce the saving truth to
about eighty-five million Africans who are still attached
to pagan beliefs, before it is too late?
Considerations of this kind are becoming even more
serious as a result of the general quickening of events,
of which the Bishops and leaders among the Catholics
of Africa are deeply aware.
At the moment when new structures are being sought
— while some run the risk of abandoning themselves to
the false seductions of a technical civilisation — the
Church has the duty to offer to them, in the greatest
measure possible, the substantial riches of her doctrine
and her life as animators of a Christian social order.
Any delay would be fraught with serious consequences.
8o The Popes and the Missions
The Means are Inadequate
The Africans, who are passing in a few decades
through the stages of an evolution which the Western
world achieved in the course of several centuries, are
more easily disturbed and seduced by the scientific and
technical teaching which is being given to them, as well
as by the materialistic influences to which they are sub-
jected. For this reason situations may be created here
and there which it would be difficult to amend, and
consequently the penetration of Catholicism into souls
and society would be impsiired.
It is necessary, without delay, to give pastors of souls
the means of action proportionate to the importance and
urgency of the present circumstances. Yet, with rare
exceptions, these means of missionary action are still
inadequate for the task that needs to be done. Although
this lack is unfortunately not to be found in Africa
alone, it is strongly felt there because of the circum-
It will be useful. Venerable Brethren, to give you
some particular indications on this point.
In recently established missions, for example, founded
in some cases only about ten years ago, there can be
no hope for a long time of perceptible help from local
clergy. And the too few missionaries, scattered over
vast territories — where other (non-Catholic) confessions
are also working — can no longer meet all demands.
In one particular place there are forty priests for almost
a million souls, of whom some 25,000 are Catholics.
In another place there are fifty priests for a population
of two million inhabitants, where the 60,000 faithful
among them are enough to absorb all the time of the
Upon reading these figures, a Christian heart cannot
remain indifferent. Twenty more priests in a particular
region would make it possible to plant the cross there
today, while tomorrow this same land, tilled by other
The Popes and the Missions 8i
workers than those of the Lord, will probably have
become impervious to the true Faith.
Furthermore, it is not enough only to preach the
Gospel. In the social and political crisis which Africa
is undergoing, it is necessary quickly to form a select
group of Christians in the midst of a still neophyte
people. But to what proportions will the number of
missionaries have to grow in order to enable them to
perform this task of the personal formation of
The Shortage of Qergy
To such a scarcity of men there is almost always
added a lack of means which at times borders on extreme
poverty. Who will give these new missions, generally
situated in poor regions that are nevertheless important
for the future of evangelisation, the generous help which
they so urgently need? The missionary suffers upon
seeing himself so deprived of means in the face of such
tasks. He does not ask to be admired, but rather to
be helped in establishing the Church where this can still
The conditions of the apostolate in the older established
missions, where the proportion of Catholics and their
fervour are a source of joy to Our heart, are, although
different, no less a matter for concern. Here also the
lack of priests is sorely felt. These dioceses or Vicariates
Apostolic must in fact develop without delay the
activities indispensable for the expansion and radiation
Colleges and schools must be founded, and Christian y
doctrine taught throughout all grades. Organisations
for social action must be established to guide the
work of chosen groups of Catholics in the service
of society. The Catholic Press must be developed
in all its forms. Modern techniques for the diffusion of
culture must be studied, for it is known in our day how
82 The Popes and the Missions
important a well-formed and enlightened public opinion
is. Above all, attention must be given to the growing
development of Catholic Action, and to the satisfaction
of the religious and cultural needs of a generation which,
deprived of sufficient food, might be exposed to the
danger of going outside the Church to seek nourishment.
In order to undertake these different tasks, the pastors
of souls need not only greater means, but also, and
above all, collaborators prepared for these more diverse
and therefore more difficult ministries. Such apostles
cannot be improvised. They are frequently lacking, yet
the need is urgent, if the confidence of the future ^lite
is not to be lost.
We wish here to express all Our gratitude to the
religious Congregations, to the priests and militant laity
who, impressed with the seriousness of the times, have
spontaneously met such needs. Certain initiatives have
already borne fruit and, combined with the dedication
of all, they open the way to great hopes.
But it is truly Our duty to affirm that in this field
there still remain enormous tasks to be done. Even
the very progress of the missions poses a new difficulty
for the Church in certain territories. In fact, the success
of evangelisation requires a proportionate increase in the
number of apostles, if one does not want to compromise
this magnificent development. Missionary Congrega-
tions are now being sought after on all sides, and the
insufficiency of vocations prevents them from fulfilling
all these requests.
You know, Venerable Brethren, that the number of
priests in proportion to that of the faithful is decreasing
in Africa. The African clergy is undoubtedly growing,
but it will not be able to take complete charge of the
management of its own dioceses for many years to come,
even with the help of the missionaries who bring the
The Popes and the Missions 83
faith. Those young Christian communities cannot for
the time being, left to their own resources, fulfil their
duties in the decisive moment through which they are
Will not the difficulties of such circumstances recall
to their missionary duty Our many sons who do not
thank God enough for the gift of faith received in their
Christian family, and for the means of salvation placed
at their disposal?
II. THE CO-OPERATION OF THE ENTIRE
These conditions of the apostolate, which We have
outlined, clearly show, Venerable Brethren, that the
problems of Africa are no longer a limited and local
matter that can be resolved at leisure, gradually, and
independently of the general life of the Christian world.
If in other times "the life of the Church, in its visible
aspect, extended its force — especially in those countries
of old Europe from which she spread — toward what
could then be called the limits of the world, today on
the contrary she presents herself as an exchange of life
and energy between all the members of the Mystical
Body of Christ upon earth", 10 The repercussions of
the Catholic situation in Africa go greatly beyond the
frontiers of that continent, and it is necessary that,
under the impulse of this Apostolic See, the fraternal
response to so many needs should come from the entire
It is therefore not without reason that We turn to you.
Venerable Brethren, in an hour which is important to
the expansion of the Church. "If, in our mortal body.
10 Christmas Message 1945 — Acta Apostolicae Sedis
XXXVIII, 1946, p. 20.
84 The Popes and the Missions
when one member suffers, all the others suffer with
it, 11 the sound members providing the sick members
with the proper help, likewise in the Church each mem-
ber does not live for himself alone, but helps the others,
and all help each other for their mutual consolation,
as well as for a better development of the whole body".^^
A Call to the Bishops
Are the Bishops not in truth "the most eminent
members of the universal Church, those who are joined
to the Divine Head of the entire Body with a very
special bond and therefore are justly called 'the first
members of the Lord' "P^^
Of them more than others it can be said that Christ,
the Head of the Mystical Body, "asks the help of His
members : because iitst of all the Sovereign Pontiff takes
the place of Jesus Christ and must, in order not to be
crushed by the weight of his pastoral duties, call upon
many to share his anxieties".^* United in closer bond
to Christ and His Vicar, Venerable Brethren, you will
take to heart, in a lively spirit of charity, this sharing of
the solicitude for all the churches which weighs upon
Our shoulders. ^5
Stimulated by the charity of Christi** you will be
happy to feel deeply with Us the urgent duty of propa-
gating the Gospel and of founding the Church through-
out the whole world; you will be happy to pour out
among your clergy and your people a spirit of prayer
and mutual help, in dimensions as great as the Heart of
Christ. "If you want to love Christ," said St. Augustine,
11 Cfr. I Cor. xii, 26.
12 Encyclical Mystici Corporis, A.A.S. XXXV, 1943, p. 200.
13 Ibid, p. 211.
14 Ibid, p. 213.
15 Cfr. II Cor. xi, 28.
16 Cfr. II Cor. V, 4.
The Popes and the Missions 85
"spread charity all over the earth, for the members of
Christ are all over the world. "i^
A Joint Responsibility
Without doubt, Jesus Christ has entrusted His entire
flock to the Apostle Peter alone and to his successors,
the Roman Pontiffs: "Pasce agnos meos, fasce oves
meas — Feed my lambs, feed my sheep". ^^ gut, if every
Bishop is the proper pastor only of that portion of the
flock entrusted to his care, his quality as a legitimate
successor of the apostles by divine institution renders
him jointly responsible for the apostolic mission of the
Church, according to the words of Christ to His apostles :
"as the Father has sent me, I also send you''.^'
This mission, which must embrace all nations and all
times^o did not cease with the death of the apostles. It
continues in the person of all the Bishops in communion
with the Vicar of Jesus Christ. "The dignity of the
Apostles, which is the foremost in the Church," as St.
Thomas Aquinas asserted, 21 "resides in its fullness in
those who are first and foremost envoys and missionaries
of the Lord."
This apostolic fire, brought upon earth by Jesus, must
communicate itself from their hearts to the hearts of
all Our sons, and it must incite in them a new ardour
for the missionary activity of the Church throughout
The Missionary Spirit
Furthermore, this interest for the universal needs of
the Church really manifests in a living and true manner
the Catholicity of the Church. "The missionary spirit
17 On the Epistle of John to Parthos, Tr. X, n. 8, Migne
P.L. XXXV, 2060.
18 John xxi, 16-18.
19 John XX, 21.
20 Cfr. Matt, xxviii, 19-20.
21 Expos, in Epist. ad Rom. c. I, lect. I.
86 The Popes and the Missions
and the Catholic spirit, We have said before, are one
and the same thing. Catholicity is an essential note of
the true Church. This is so to such an extent that a
Christian is not truly faithful and devoted to the Church
if he is not equally attached and devoted to her
universality, desiring that she take root and flourish in
all parts of the earth. "22
Nothing is more foreign to the Church of Jesus Christ
than division. Nothing is more harmful to her life
than isolation, retiring into oneself, and all the forms of
collective egoism which induce a particular Christian
community, whatever it may be, to close itself up within
"Mother of all nations and of all peoples as well as
of all individuals," our Holy Mother the Church "is not
and cannot be foreign in any place; she lives, or at
least by her nature she should live, in all f)eoples."23
Inversely, We could say that nothing which concerns
Our Mother the Church is or can fail to be the concern of
a CathoUc. Just as his faith is the faith of the entire
Church, and his supernatural life the hfe of the whole
Church, so the joys and anxieties of the Church will be
his joys and anxieties, the universal perspectives of the
Church will be the normal perspectives of his Christian
life. The appeals of the Roman Pontiffs for the great
apostolic tasks in the world will find a spontaneous echo
in his fully Catholic heart, grave and urgent as they are.
III. THREEFOLD MISSIONARY DUTY
Missionary from her very origins, the Holy Church
has not ceased to accomplish the work in which she
?2 Christmas Message 1946, Discourses and Radio Messages
vol. VIII. p. 328.
23 Christmas Message 1945 — Acta Apostolicae Sedis
XXXVIII, 1946, p. 18.
The Popes and the Missions &7
could not fail, to address to her faithful the threefold
invitation to prayer, to generosity and, to some, the gift
of themselves. The missions of today, especially those
of Africa, still expect this threefold assistance from the
Therefore, Venerable Brethren, We desire in the first
place that more prayers be said for this intention, and
that they be said with more enUghtened fervour.
It is your duty to support among your priests and
faithful an unceasing and insistent supplication for such
a holy cause. And it is your duty to nourish this prayer
with fitting instruction and regular information on the
life of the Church, to stimulate it in certain periods of
the liturgical year which are more adapted to recalling
Christians to their missionary duty.
Primarily, We think of Advent, which is the time of
humanity's expectation and of the providential ways
of preparation for salvation; the Epiphany, which
manifests this salvation to the world, and Pentecost,
which celebrates the foundation of the Church through
the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
But is not the most excellent form of prayer, perhaps,
that which Christ, the Supreme Priest, addressed to the
Father on the altars on which He renews His redeeming
sacrifice? In these years which are probably decisive
for the future of Catholicism in many countries, let us
multiply the Masses celebrated for the intentions of the
missions. These are the intentions of Our Lord Himself,
Who loves His Church and would have her extended to
and flourishing in every place on earth.
Without contesting in any way the legitimacy of
private petitions of the faithful, it would be fitting to
recall to them the primordial intentions indissolubly
bound to the act of the Eucharistic sacrifice itself,
inscribed furthermore in the Canon of the Mass of the
Latin rite : "In primis . . . pro Ecclesia tua sand a
88 The Popes and the Missions
catholica, quam pacificare, custodire, adunare et regere
digneris toto orbe terrarum" .
These highest perspectives will be better understood,
however, if one keeps in mind that, according to the
teaching of Our Encyclical Mediator Dei, every Mass
celebrated is essentially an action of the Church, since
"the minister of the altar represents Christ offering, as
the Head (of the Mystical Body), in the name of all its
members". 24 It is therefore the whole Church which
through Christ presents the holy offering "pro totius
mundi salute" to the Father. How therefore should not
the prayer of the faithful be raised in union with that of
the Pope, the Bishops and the entire Church, to implore
from God a new pouring out of the Holy Spirit, thanks
to Whom "profusis gaudiis, totus in orbe terrarum
"Pray Still More"
Pray therefore, Venerable Brethren and beloved
children; pray still more. Bear in mind the immense
spiritual needs of so many people who are still so far
from the true faith or who are so much deprived of
help to persevere in it. Turn to the heavenly Father
and, with Jesus, repeat the prayer which was that of
apostolic workers of every time: "Hallowed be Thy
name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth
as it is in heaven!"
For the honour of God and the splendour of His glory,
We wish that His reign of justice, love and peace be
at last established in every place. Is not this zeal for
the glory of God, in a heart burning with love for its
brothers, the highest form of missionary zeal? The
apostle is before all else God's herald.
But would a prayer for the missionary Church be
24 Acta Apostolicae Sedis XXXIX, 1947, p. 55C.
25 Preface of Pentecost.
The Popes and the Missions 89
sincere if it were not accompanied, wherever possible,
by a gesture of generosity?
Funds for the Missions
More than all others do we know the inexhaustible
charity of Our children. We who constantly receive
moving and manifold testimonies of it. We know that
it is thanks to their generosity that the marvellous pro-
gress of evangelisation has taken place since the
beginning of this century.
We wish here to thank Our beloved sons and daughters
who dedicate themselves to the service of the missions
by various works, inspired by an industrious charity.
We also wish to render special homage to those who, in
pontifical missionary organisations, consecrate them-
selves to the task — at times thankless but so very noble
— of extending their hand in the name of the Church
towards the young Christian communities which are
her pride and her hope.
We congratulate them with all Our heart, and We
likewise express Our gratitude to all the members of the
Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith
who, under the guidance of Our beloved son, the
Cardinal Prefect, are assuming the importaant task of
serving the progress of the Church in vast continents.
But Our Apostolic Office makes it a duty for Us,
Venerable Brethren, to tell you that these gifts, received
with so much gratitude, are unfortunately far from
sufficient for the growing needs of the missionary
We daily receive anxious appeals from pastors who
see the good to be done, the evil that needs urgently to
be removed, the necessary buildings that must be con-
structed, the organisations that must be founded. Our
suffering is great at not being able to give more than a
partial and inadequate response to such legitimate
90 The Popes and the Missions
For example, this is what happens in the case of the
Pontifical Organisation of St. Peter the Apostle. The
subsidies which it distributes to seminaries in missionary
countries are considerable. But, thank God, the voca-
tions are more cind more numerous every year, requiring
more and more of the funds which are so vital. Will
it, therefore, now be necessary to limit these providential
vocations to the measure of the money available? Will
it be necessary to close the seminary doors to generous
and hopeful young men for want of funds, as We have
been told has happened at times? No, We do not want
to believe that the Christian world, faced with its
responsibilities, will refuse to make the exceptional effort
called for in meeting these needs.
The Need for Sacrifice
We are not unaware of the hardness of the present
times and of the difficulties encountered by the older
dioceses of Europe or America. But, if figures were
quoted, one would immediately see that this poverty
could be considered relative prosperity if compared to
the extremely miserable state in which others find them-
Besides, comparison is useless, for it is not so much
a matter of entering balances as of exhorting the faithful,
as We have already done on a solemn occasion, "to
enlist under the standard of Christian renunciation and
self-denial — which goes beyond that which is commanded
and prompts one to fight the good fight with generous
spirit — according to the invitation of grace and in
keeping with one's own circumstances . . . That which
will be taken from vanity, will be given to the Church
and to the poor in mercy" .2* What could the missionary
not do, who is paralysed in his apostolate for want of
means, with the money that a Christian not infrequently
26 Discourse, Nov. 2nd, 1950 — Acta Apostolkae Sedis
XLII, p. 787.
The Popes and the Missions 91
spends on passing fancies! May every member of the
faith, every family, every Christian community question
itself on this pomt.
Recalling the "generosity of Jesus Christ Our Lord
Who, having all things, made Himself poor for you to
enrich you with His poverty ",2^ give that which is
superfluous to your needs, and even sometimes that
which is necessary. The development of the mission-
ary apostolate depends upon your liberality. The face
of the world can be renewed with a victory of charity.
The Church in Africa, as in every other mission
territory, lacks apostles.
Therefore We turn again to you. Venerable Brethren,
to ask you to foster more missionary vocations to
the priesthood and the religious life in every way. It
falls to you in the first place to develop among the
faithful a conditioning of the spirit, as We said a short
while ago, an opening of the soul which renders them
more sensitive to the universal interests of the Church
and more apt to hear the ancient calling of the Lord,
which echoes from age to age, "Leave your country,
your kinsfolk and your father's house, for the land which
I will show you". 28
A generation trained according to these truly Catholic
ideals, either in families or in schools, in parishes or in
Catholic Action and in pious works, such a generation
will give to the Church the apostles she needs to
announce the Gospel to all peoples.
This missionary inspiration, furthermore, spreading
through all your dioceses, will be a pledge of spiritual
renewal for you. A Christian community which gives its
sons and daughters to the Church cannot die. And, if it
is true that the supernatural life is a life of charity and
27 II Cor. viii, 9.
28 Gen. xii, i.
92 The Popes and the Missions
grows with the giving of one's self, it can be asserted
that the Catholic vitality of a nation is measured by the
sacrifices it is capable of making for the missionary
However, it is not enough to form an atmosphere
favourable to this cause. It is necessary to do more than
that. Thank God, there are numerous dioceses which
are so amply provided with priests that they could agree
to the sacrifice of some vocations without running any
risk. We turn to them above all with paternal insistence :
"Whatever is over and above give to the poor". 2'
The Widow's Mite
But We think also of those among Our brothers of
the episcopacy who are troubled by a sad decrease in
religious and priestly vocations and who can no longer
meet the spiritual 'needs of their flocks. We identify
Ourselves with their pastoral sufferings and We willingly
say of them as St. Paul said to the Corinthians, "For
I do not mean that the relief of others should become
your burden, but that there should be equality ".'o
Dioceses thus tried should not, however, be deaf to the
appeal of the distant missions. The widow's mite was
given as an example by Our Lord, and the generosity
of one poor diocese for others even poorer would not
impoverish it. God will not let Himself be outdone in
Isolated efforts will not suffice for resolving the
complex problems of missionary vocations effectively.
Remember these problems in your meetings therefore,
Venerable Brethren, and in the framework of national
organisations, where they exist. On that scale it will
be easier to put into effect the means of action best
suited for the revival of missionary vocations. At the
same time you will more easily bear the responsibilities
29 Cfr. Luke xi, 41.
30 II Cor. viii, 13.
The Popes and the Missions 93
which render you united in the service of the general
interests of the Church.
The Missionary Union of the Qergy
Give generous support in your dioceses to the
Missionary Union of the Clergy, so often recommended
by Our predecessors and by Ourselves. We have recently
elevated it to the dignity of a pontifical organisation, so
that no one would doubt the esteem in which We hold
it and the importance that We give to its development.
Finally, let there be established a close co-ordination
of efforts, indispensable factor for success, between
pastors of souls and those who labour more immediately
for the missions. We have in mind particularly the
national presidents of the pontifical missionary organisa-
tions, whose task you wifll render easier by sustaining
their diocesan directors with your authority and your
zeal. We have in mind also the superiors of those
deserving Congregations to whom the Holy See does
not cease to appeal to meet the more urgent needs of
missions. They cannot increase the number of voca-
tions without the benevolent understanding of local
Study together the best ways of reconciling the real
interests of the one and the other. If at times these
interests seem momentarily divergent, is it perhaps not
because one ceases to consider them with sufficient faith
in the supernatural vision of the unity and the Catholicity
of the Church?
African Students Overseas
In the same spirit of fraternal and disinterested
collaboration you should have care. Venerable Brethren,
to be solicitous for the spiritual assistance of young
Africans and Asians who must live temporarily in your
dioceses to pursue their studies.
Deprived of the natural social environment of their
94 The Popes and the Missions
native countries, they often remain for various reasons
without sufficient contact with the centres of Cathohc
hfe in the nations that have given them hospitality. For
this reason their Christian Ufe can find itself endangered,
because the true values of the new civilisation which they
discover still remains hidden to them, while materialistic
influences deeply trouble them and atheistic associations
strive to win their confidence.
The present and the future seriousness of this state of
affairs should not escape you. Thus, becoming aware
of the cares of the missionary Bishops, you will not
hesitate to appoint some exerienced and zealous priests
of your diocese for this apostolate.
Another form of interchangeable assistance, certainly
not without its sacrifices, is adopted by some Bishops
who give permission to one or the other of their priests,
even at some sacrifice, to leave their diocese for a time
and place themselves at the disposition of the Ordinaries
These sacrifices are of incomparable value in so far
as they ensure the wise and discreet introduction of new
and more specialised forms of the priestly ministry.
Moreover they supplement the clergy of these African
dioceses in the teaching of ecclesiastical and secular
subjects with which the local clergy cannot possibly
cope. We readily encourage such generous and timely
initiatives. Trained and placed with prudence, such
men could make a valuable contribution to African
Catholicism in a difficult but hopeful time.
Assistance to missionary dioceses, nowadays, assumes
another form which gives joy to Our heart, and which,
before We conclude this letter, We would like to indicate.
We refer to the effective task which lay militants
undertake, acting principally within the framework of
national and international Catholic movements, in
performing a service to the young Christian communities.
Their co-operation stipulates careful attention to the
The Popes and the Missions 95
requirements of an alien culture, moderation and pru-
-dence. But how precious is the help thus brought to
those dioceses which must face new and urgent apostolic
With full submission to the Bishop of the diocese who
is responsible for the apostolate, and in perfect collabora-
tion with African Catholics as well, who understand the
benefits of such fraternal support, these lay militants
offer to new dioceses the advantage of a long experience
of Catholic and social action, as well as of all the other
forms of specialised apostolate. They promote, further-
more — and this is not the least of their contributions —
the rapid linking of local organisations with the vast
network of international Catholic organisations. We
congratulate them with all Our hearts for their zeal in
the service of the Church.
In addressing to you this grave and urgent appeal in
favour of the African missions, Our thoughts — as you
have well understood, Venerable Brethren — have never
departed from all those of Our sons who consecrate them-
selves to the progress of the Church in other continents.
All of them are equally dear to Us, especially those who
are suffering so much in the missions of the Far East.
Even though the peculiar circumstances of Africa have
been the occasion for this Encyclical Letter, We do not
want to end it without turning Our eyes once more to
the totality of the Catholic missions.
To you. Venerable Brethren, pastors responsible for
lands recently evangelised, who establish the Church or
strengthen her position at the cost of great toil, We intend
that Our letter may bring you not only the testimony of
Our paternal solicitude, but also the assurance that the
entire Catholic community, informed once again of the
magnitude and difficulties of your tasks, stands more
96 The Popes and the Missions
than ever before at your side to support you with its
prayers, its sacrifices and the sending of the best among
its sons. What matters the material distance which
separates you from the centre of Christianity! Are not
the most vahant and vulnerable of the Church's sons also
the most dear to her heart?
The Need for Perseverance
To yot again — missionaries, priests of the local clergy,
religious men and women, seminarians, catechists, lay
militants, all apostles of Jesus Christ, in no matter what
distant or unknown place you may be — We renew Our
expression of gratitude and hope. Persevere trustingly
in the task undertaken, be proud to serve the Church,
giving heed to her voice, always more imbued with her
spirit, united in bonds of fraternal charity.
What a source of consolation for you, dear sons, and
what a certainty of victory is the thought that the
obscure and silent struggle that you wage in the service
of the Church is not yours alone, nor that of your
generation or your people only. It is truly the perennial
struggle of the entire Church, in which all her sons must
resolve to participate more actively, indebted as they
are to God and to their brothers for the gift of faith
received in baptism.
"For even if I preach the gospel, I have therein no
ground for boasting," the Apostle of the nations said,
"since I am under constraint. For woe to me if I do
not preach the gospel. "^i How could We not apply
these energetic words to Ourselves who, through Our
Apostolic mandate, are established "a preacher and an
apostle ... a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and
Invoking upon the Catholic missions, therefore, the
double patronage of St. Francis Xavier and St. Theresa
31 I Cor. ix, 16.
32 I Tim. ii, 7.
The Popes and the Missions 97
of the Child Jesus, the protection of all the holy martyrs
and especially the powerful and maternal intercession
of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, We address once more
to the Church the imperious and victorious invitation
of her Divine Founder: "Put out into the deep"."
Confident that all Catholics will respond to Our appeal
with such an ardent generosity that, through the grace
of God, the missions will finally be able to bring the
light of Christianity and the progress of civilisation to
the ends of the earth. We grant to you. Venerable
Brethren, to your faithful and to each and all of the
heralds of the Gospel who are so dear to Us, with
all Our heart, Our Apostolic Benediction as a pledge
of Our paternal benevolence and of heavenly favours.
33 Luke V, 4.
Africa, special claims of, 75, 83; change in, 77, 80; Fidei Donum
Association for the Propagation of the Faith, 17, 28, 70, 89.
Apostleship of Prayer, 15.
Bishops should not grudge priests for the missions, 15, 26, 92;
should be ready to lend priests temporarily, 94.
Catechists, preferably local, needed in greater numbers, 36.
Cathedrals, should not be too costly, 40.
Catholic Action in the mission-fields, historical, 56; actual,
Communist propaganda, 62, 78.
Contemplatives in the missions, local foundations, Carthusian
or Cistercian, 37-8.
Equality between European and native clergy, 35.
Existing customs to be respected, 66.
Fides news agency, 45.
Funds needed, 89, et passim.
Holy Childhood, Pontifical Society of the, 17, 29, 46, 70.
Islam, not explicitly named, 79.
Languages, importance of knowing local, 11.
Lay militants in the missions, 94-5.
Local clergy, reasons for needing, 6, 30, 32, et passim; lack of
sometimes after centuries, 6-7, 31; long training essentia^
6; for leadership ^nd not only subordinate positions, 7;
to take over if foreign missionaries are expelled, 32.
Local religious Congregations, 36.
Mission Aid Societies, Pontifical, 17, 70, 92.
Missionary clergy, great need for more, 81.
Missionary exhibition and museum, 21, 28, 69.
Missionary Orders and Congregations, must be ready to co-
operate with other religious Orders and Congregations, 5,
41, 66; must not be nationalist or excessively identified
with their countries of origin, 5, 8, 9.
Missionary Superiors, duties of, 3 et seq.; must meet regionally,
6; must be ready to subdivide or relinquish territory, 5, 42;
must be ready to co-operate with local Ordinaries when
eventually these can be appointed, 55.
Missionary Union of the Clergy, 18, 27, 45, 70, 93.
Nobles, need to convert, 40.
Nuns in the mission-fields, 13.
Pagans, a billion, 3, 22.
Persecution, recent, in the mission territories, 48.
Peter the Apostle, Society of St., 17, 29, 70, 90.
Prayer for the Missions, 87 et passim.
Press, Catholic, in mission-territories, 61, 81.
Principles of missionary work resumed, 51.
Professional qualifications needed, 61-2.
Progress of the missions in modern times, 44-5.
Responsibility shared by all the Universal Church, 85.
Seminaries in missionary territories, 33.
Social teaching of the Church, relevance of in missionary
Students from missionary territories, duties towards, 93.
Training European missionaries, 10.
Virtues needed in a missionary, 12.
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THE FOPES AND THE MISSIONS
Four Encyclical Letters
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